Student Supervision and Space Management

Student Supervision and Space Management – Valuable Tools to Prevent Problems in Schools “Fight Club”

A lot has happened in the past month in school safety, including a situation that received a fair amount of national press coverage a few weeks back.  Media accounts allege that students at Nevada Valley Union High School in Grass Valley, California had been participating in what reporters characterized as a “fight club” for several months.  Allegedly, groups of students would enter an unsecured locker room in the basement of the school, don boxing gloves, and fight one another.  Video segments shown by news outlets depict students boxing while a number of other students observe.

Caution about video footage

According to reporters, parents are upset that this activity has apparently been going on without detection by staff at the school.  I am always cautious about opining on video segments without supportive background information.  I testified in a federal civil action in a case involving an independent boarding school a few years ago.  Videos of students sparring in their dormitory rooms depicted students punching one another in the stomach while other students looked on.  The video footage depicted by the news media initially looked horrific.  However, our video crew was able to locate the original unedited footage on YouTube which revealed that the videos were taken widely out of context and were likely posted as an effort to force the school to settle the suit. This is but one example demonstrating that some videos that are aired on the news are not accurate depictions.

Student supervision and space management

With this caution in mind, I do not have enough information to accurately evaluate how bad the situations depicted in the “fight club” video clips really are.  At the same time, I have a different take on the incident than many people do.  While media accounts focused on the need for students to be informed of the dangers of hitting one another without proper protective headgear, I immediately questioned whether a lack of proper student supervision and space management should be more of a
focus.  The ability of students to gain access to a large space such as a locker room and to repeatedly engage in inappropriate activities has implications far beyond those that are upsetting to many people who have viewed the video clips. Robberies, sexual assaults and deaths have occurred in smaller spaces where adult supervision was lacking.  The concept of space management involves a thoughtful effort to keep certain types of areas in K12 schools secured when they are not occupied by an adult who can supervise and prevent incidents like these.

Case in point – the “sex room” case

I recently finished a civil action in Illinois that involved two high school students who repeatedly engaged in group sex with several young women who were special needs students functioning at the third grade level.  During the criminal investigation and successful prosecution of the two young men, the victims repeatedly referred to the space where the incidents occurred as the “sex room.”  The district spent one million dollars defending against the civil action but once they passed this self-insurance limit, their insurance carrier immediately offered plaintiffs’ counsel a settlement.   Based on what I saw in the case file, it would have been extremely risky for this case to go to a jury trial.

We see so many tragic cases in schools where inadequate student supervision and/or improper space management are a major factor.  Providing clear guidance for staff on simple but effective student supervision practices and the importance of keeping unoccupied spaces locked can help to prevent many school safety incidents.    Effective leadership to make these simple but effective practices consistent realities in a school is one of the best ways to stay out of the news and out of court by preventing a myriad of negative situations.

Link to original news story:

Student Supervision

School Terrorism Web Courses

Coming Soon – School Terrorism Web Courses

Photograph taken during filming of the first 30 seconds, weapon scenarios. - See more at:

Photograph taken during filming of the first 30 seconds, weapon scenarios. – See more at:

Safe Havens Analysts Authoring School Terrorism Web Courses

Last year, Safe Havens agreed to author a series of web courses on terrorism prevention and preparedness for Scenario Learning Incorporated.  Safe Havens analysts have authored a number of school safety web courses for Scenario Learning, including the six recently released active shooter web courses for K12, colleges, and work places.  We have also authored an active shooter course for students at institutions of higher learning.


Comprehensive Topical Coverage

Scenario Learning now offers more than 300 courses for the K12 sector and adds new course offerings each year.  Scheduled for draft completion in January 2016 the six new terrorism prevention and preparedness courses are based on the book Innocent Targets When Terrorism Comes to School, which is now in its eight print run, as well as our experience working with schools in terrorism prone regions such as Nigeria and Kenya.  In light of the recent series of terrorist attacks and thwarted attacks globally, Safe Havens and Scenario Learning will be completing the courses well ahead of the original publication date.  We had discussed and planned for this possibility more than six months ago.

School Terrorism Web Courses Authoring and Editing

Safe Havens is honored to be selected to author these School Terrorism Web courses which are sadly now very timely. Feedback from our clients and from insurance carriers about Scenario Learning has been excellent.  The short time format of the awareness level courses, combined with excellent tracking capability, low cost, ability for school officials to create custom web courses and features that allow school officials to document the distribution of critical policies and crisis plan components, have been very popular with dozens of our clients.   Our authoring team has been working closely with the Scenario Learning Companies editorial team to produce accurate, concise, actionable and informative courses on these relevant topics.


Full Disclosure

Safe Havens does not receive any form of royalties; our analysts author courses for Scenario Learning for a one-time nominal fee.   While our analysts can generate far more revenue through other forms of service delivery, we have found the approach utilized by Scenario Learning Incorporated to be highly practical for our clients.  Safe Havens never accepts any form of monetary compensation for recommending any product or service.

When School Safety Software is Slower

Touch Screen Directory

While designed to make it easier for travelers to find information, this airport electronic information board slows down the process and inconveniences people who need to use it. Some school safety software solutions also slow people down. This can be dangerous in emergency situations.

Software can be Slower than the Human Brain

While flying out of the Atlanta Airport last week, I was reminded of the need to write this column.  A while back, I went to a concourse information board to find a restaurant.  I quickly realized that they had installed a very sophisticated and interactive information board to help travelers.  As I stood in line watching people try to figure out how to use the new device, it became quickly apparent that though the new board was more robust, had much better graphics and looked really cool, it was dramatically slower to use.

Unexpected Outcomes

The new board has touch screen capability which allows the user to navigate to a wide variety of different screens.   Unfortunately, this means that only one person at a time can look at the board for information.  With the old single display map four or five people could look at the board and find what they are looking for at one time.  When I used the board last week, I found that people are still standing in line trying to figure out how to use the innovative but slow device.  While this information board probably results in millions of wasted minutes for travelers each month, it does not endanger anyone’s life.  When similar delays result from technology that is designed for school crisis situations, inconvenience can become life-threatening.

New School Safety Software

We are contacted by school safety product vendors with new school safety solutions every week.  We have found some new products to be impressive and practical while others cause us concern.  For example, a number of vendors now offer solutions which allow school crisis plans to be viewed on portable devices.  We considered making our school crisis planning templates available in this format about five years ago.  Our planning team decided that this was not a wise approach after looking at the research of Dr. Gary Klein and considering feedback from school and public safety officials who had experienced significant problems with software-based crisis plans during actual emergency situations.

Unrealistic School Safety Software Can Kill

In one case, a client who had paid more than one million dollars for a computerized school crisis plan was successfully sued after the death of a student.  Our client could not understand how an administrator who had received several days of emergency preparedness training could perform so poorly, forgetting even the most basic action steps.  When we performed one-on-one controlled simulations with a variety of school administrators in the district, we learned that they could not make reasonable and prompt decisions fast enough because they had been inadvertently conditioned to think that they would be able to pull up the action steps if faced with a crisis.  As this was a large urban school district that has experienced a large number of fatal school crisis events, it was troubling to see how ill-prepared administrators were to make life and death decisions.

Test Your School Safety Software Solutions

We have seen numerous instances of technology solutions that like the airport information station, appear to be very helpful at first glance, but can actually make matters worse because of false assumptions about how effective they will be under fast-breaking and stressful conditions.  As we have advised many times, new approaches should be thoroughly tested using scenario-based prompting which requires individuals to react in very short time frames.  If it does not work in simulations, things will most likely get worse when young lives are actually at risk.