Free School Safety Fidelity Webinar

Mike Dorn presents a webinar.

I had the opportunity to present a webinar for my editor at School Planning and Management Magazine this week. The one-hour presentation titled How Much Fidelity Does Your School Safety Approach Have? is available at no cost until October 11 on the School Planning and Management website: https://webspm.com/Home.aspx

I have enjoyed the opportunity to write a column on school security for School Planning and Management for more than eighteen years now and have had the pleasure of keynoting conferences and presenting webinars for the magazine as well. The magazine has had a regular focus on school safety issues with a wide array of topical areas and authors over the years. I have been blessed to work with Jerry Enderle for most of the eighteen years. Though I can honestly state that I have never had a bad editor with any of the magazines and book publishers I have written for, Jerry is one of the most pleasant people I have ever worked with. I greatly appreciated the chance to work with Jerry again and the time so many participants took to learn more about this important and timely topic.

School Safety Fidelity: April 2017 Issue of School Safety Monthly Now Available

School Safety Fidelity

This month’s issue of school safety monthly is an interesting topic that spans all that we do in keeping our schools safe. While the concept is as fundamental as the all-hazards approach to emergency management, it is sometimes easy to forget the basics. School safety fidelity is as simple as making sure we do what we say we are going to do. This can manifest itself in different ways, from a failure to follow proscribed student supervision policies to the use of active shooter programs that breed inconsistency by design. Having practices, policies and training that are mismatched is one of the easiest ways to create liability and increase actual risk.

Room for improvement in school safety practices and procedures to enhance fidelity can be found in many areas. From basics like student supervision to more complex issues like active shooter response and mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse, mismatched policies and practices can cause injury and death when not addressed. In actuality, we should be taking a closer look at everything we do during the periodic review and updating of our plans.

The good news is that like most obstacles, this one can be overcome. There are a number of ways to identify gaps in school safety fidelity. There are also several ways to close these gaps and enhance school safety with sometimes very little actual effort. In many cases the answer is a simple adjustment of practice or training update. Read this month’s issue of School Safety Monthly: School Safety Fidelity to find out how.

Click the image below to download the April 2017 issue of School Safety Monthly:

School Safety Fidelity: April 2017

For past issues of School Safety Monthly as well as archived issues of our electronic journal The Safety Net, visit our newsletter archives page here:

The Safety Net Volume 3 Issue 2

Newsletter & eJournal Archives Page

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:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/02/28/california-hs-probes-video-purported-student-fight-club.html?

Student Supervision