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Safety and Security

Safety and Security Philosophy Statement
        In recent years, school safety has become a hot topic in the field of education due to the flurry of school violence that has struck public schools (Essex, 2008).  According to Essex (2008), "the prevailing view held by the courts is that prudent professional educators, acting in place of parents, are supervising students under their care and ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, that they are safe" (p. 169).  As a result, educational leaders need to create and implement comprehensive prevention, intervention, and postvention plans to address safety and security issues in their schools.  I believe that the most effective educational leaders place significant value on utilizing both proactive and reactive safety and security strategies.
        As my primary prevention and intervention strategy, I plan to implement a school-wide system called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) within my organization.  According to the OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (n.d.), PBIS uses "proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments" (n.p.).  I too believe that this preventive system can create a school culture where the majority of students exhibit high levels of school engagement and appropriate behavior emerges as the norm.  When the universal, school-wide supports do not sufficiently reach a student (or group of students), the framework of PBIS will provide more targeted or individualized support in the form of interventions.  Educational leaders can use their knowledge of child and adolescent development to recognize and identify behaviors that are precursors to more serious behavioral and personal difficulties.  They can then team with the appropriate student support services personnel and other agencies to design meaningful interventions for these students.         
        Additional positive prevention outcomes will likely result from the implementation of PBIS, due to the reinforcement of positive pro-social behavior and increase in school engagement.  If more purposeful prevention and intervention strategies are needed to address a specific area of concern, additional curriculum can be woven in with teaching the school-wide behavioral expectations.  For example, if anti-bullying behavior needs to be explicitly taught, there is a wide range of curricula that can be incorporated within the existing PBIS programming.  As a future educational leader, I have familiarized myself with the different Olweus bullying prevention materials - Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Class Meetings That Matter, Safe Dates: An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum, Peaceful School Bus Program, and Cyber Bullying: A Prevention Curriculum (Hazelden Foundation, 2010).  Explicit teaching of anti-bullying behavior is just one example of how PBIS can serve as a framework for addressing the wide-range of social and behavioral difficulties students experience in schools.
        In addition to the prevention and intervention skills discussed above, educational leaders need to be able to intervene after a crisis situation (i.e., student suicide, death of staff member, natural disaster, school threat or violence).  Educational leaders need to ensure that a detailed, yet flexible crisis postvention plan exists for their organization.  According to Jaksec III (2001), postvention plans should address the following typical mistakes to help ensure a more effective crisis response:  absence of an in-school crisis intervention team, lack of logistical planning (i.e., pre-establishment of specific counseling areas), failure to inform the school population in an appropriate or timely manner, permitting students to leave school grounds, and neglecting preparations and debriefing meetings.  In addition to a crisis postvention plan, educational leaders should provide staff training on basic crisis response skills to increase the organization's capacity to effectively respond to a crisis situation.
        As an educational leader, I will be faced with the challenge of creating and maintaining a safe educational environment for students.  In order to meet this challenge, I plan to implement PBIS as a framework for prevention and intervention strategies related to school-wide behavioral expectations and other identified behavioral needs.  In addition, I plan to be prepared to address school crisis situations through the use of a comprehension crisis postvention plan, a pre-identified crisis response team, and staff training on basic crisis response skills.  

References
Essex, N.L. (2008). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educational leaders (4th ed.).  United States: Pearson Education, Inc.

Hazelden Foundation (2010). Related publications. Retrieved on March 9, 2010, from the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Web site: http://www.olweus.org/public/antibullying_products.page

Jaksec III, C.M. (2001). Common oversights during crisis intervention. School Administrator, January 2001, n.p.  Retrieved on March 9, 2010, from: http://www.aasa.org/SchoolAdministratorArticle.aspx?id=11242&terms=Jaksec

OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (n.d.).  School-wide PBS: What is school-wide PBS? Retrieved on March 8, 2010, from:
http://www.pbis.org/school/default.aspx

M.  Safety and Security: Core Competency

  1. demonstrate the ability to develop and implement policies and procedures for safe and secure educational environments;
  2. demonstrate the ability to formulate safety and security plans to implement security procedures including an articulated emergency chain of command, safety procedures required by law, law enforcement assistance, communication with the public, and evacuation procedures;
  3. demonstrate the ability to identify areas of vulnerability associated with school buses, buildings, and grounds and formulate a plan to take corrective action;
  4. demonstrate understanding of procedural predictabilities and plan variations where possible;
  5. demonstrate the ability to develop plans that connect every student with a school adult, eliminate bullying and profiling and implement recommended threat assessment procedures.

Artifacts

The following artifacts demonstrate my competency in the area of safety and security:

This artifact demonstrates my ability to develop and implement policies and procedures for safe and secure educational environments (M1).  During my field experience, I had the opportunity to work with staff on putting together numerous crisis intervention plans for individual students.  The attached crisis intervention plan is for a student with significant disabilities.  The purpose of the plan was to have documented standard procedures for responding to this student's aggressive and/or violent behavior.  By implementing such a plan, the school district is able to show that we have taken the necessary steps to provide a safe and secure educational environment not only for this student, but other students in the school.  

This artifact demonstrates my ability to formulate safety and security plans to implement security procedures including an articulated emergency chain of command, safety procedures required by law, law enforcement assistance, communication with the public, and evacuation procedures (M2).  After attending a training on crisis intervention, my colleague and I decided that our building was in need of a more detailed crisis post-vention plan.  After gaining support from administration to proceed with its development, we created the attached document for review by the crisis team.  The plan was designed to be user-friendly with its clear role deliniation and checklist format.  It also includes sample scripts for teachers and support staff and parent letters to make communication in a time of crisis as pre-planned as possible.

 
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