Free School Safety Conference Series, Presented by Navigate-Prepared

Great opportunity to attend a free school safety conference

Today I am honored to be able to keynote a free school safety conference being presented by NaviGate Prepared in Cincinnati, Ohio. What’s really exciting is that this is the first in a series of free school safety conferences in three states over the next two weeks.  I have had the privilege of presenting for them before and we are currently planning additional conferences for New York and Pennsylvania in September.  For each free school safety conference, I will present for three hours in the morning followed by interactive school safety building tours with participants. This is a great chance to learn hands-on with me and see a school through my perspective.

While we do not provide product endorsements or sell advertising space, we do appreciate NaviGate Prepared for their commitment to safer schools. This conference series is a great example, with a full day of solid content and concepts – not filler designed to focus on a particular product.

While this event series has passed, for more information on upcoming events, please visit:

Turn drills into your greatest school safety asset


Free School Safety Conference information from the NaviGate Prepared website:

School safety is the focus as we team up with Michael Dorn, executive director, Safe Havens International to bring day-long Safety Summit Workshops to the following locations:

  • Princeton City Schools – Viking Village Auditorium, Cincinnati, OH – March 21 – Register here
  • Grayslake Community School District 127 – High School Auditorium, Grayslake, IL – March 22 – Register here
  • Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 – Auditorium, Homestead, PA – March 27 – Register here
  • Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 – Auditorium, Easton, PA – March 28 – Register here

UPDATE: These events have passed, but information on future events is available here:

Turn drills into your greatest school safety asset

The Safety Summits are free to registered guests, including district administrators, building administrators, and first responders.

During the workshops, Michael will share actionable insights guests can implement immediately. Guests will participate in a relevant series of exercises and discover how tools like NaviGate Prepared can support school safety goals. The agenda includes a school safety audit where Michael will identify safety gaps, effective solutions and best practices throughout the building.

NaviGate Prepared is sponsoring the Safety Summit Workshops to give administrators and first responders access to critical safety information. According to Thom Jones, general manager, NaviGate Prepared, “I love seeing how audiences react during Michael’s presentations. He is a tremendously dynamic speaker. The depth of his knowledge and experience is unparalleled.” Jones states, “I am thrilled we are able to bring this level of school safety knowledge to so many administrators and first responders.”

“We are honored to be hosting the Safety Summit Workshop at Grayslake Central High School,” says Catherine Finger, Ed.D, superintendent, Grayslake Community High School District 127. She adds, “School safety is always a top priority for us so we appreciate this opportunity to learn new ways to mitigate risks, prepare our staff and students to respond appropriately in an emergency and implement proven safety methods throughout our buildings. We look forward to many Illinois school districts taking advantage of this important event and appreciate the generosity of NaviGate Prepared sponsoring this workshop and for bringing renowned safety expert, Michael Dorn.”

School Security Assessments – Time for an Upgrade?

A New Paradigm in School Safety AssessmentsSafe Havens School Security Assessment

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, leadership teams of both public and non-public K12 schools began requesting school security assessments in record numbers.  In a survey of Maine school superintendents that we conducted approximately 24 months after the shooting, we found that more than 70% of all Maine public school systems had conducted a security assessment since the Sandy Hook attack.  We, like for-profit school security consulting firms we spoke to, received a record number of requests for proposals for school security assessment projects.  Within six weeks of the attack, we were booked nearly solid for the rest of the 2012/2013 school year.  I recall Gerald Summers saying that he felt that we would see this continue for another two years.  I told Gerald that I thought requests would taper off within a few months.  Was I ever wrong.

Requests for School Security Assessments Continue in the 2013/2014 School Year

Proving Gerald correct, the following school year was similar and we added more than 30 analysts to meet the steady and increased demand.   Requests for assessments into the next fall with many clients requesting second assessments because they had not been satisfied with the firms they had selected.  We found this to be particularly common for a number of independent school clients.  In addition, many schools and school districts had to put funds in their annual budgets to cover the costs of school security assessments.  We finally began to note a drop in school security assessments in the 2015/2016 school year.  However, increased terrorist activity has since spurred a lot more interest in school security assessments.

The ISIS Effect

Just as things began to settle down, there has been a series of terrible acts of terrorism and foiled plots in France, Germany, Belgium, the U.K., Africa, the United States, and other countries. These acts have many parents, students and school officials concerned about the potential for school-related terrorism in the United States.  Though K12 school-related terrorist attacks are very rare in contrast to terrorist attacks on other types of targets, they do happen with enough frequency to be a viable concern.  In the past three months, this concern has correlated in a dramatic surge of requests for our services.  From requests to conduct school security assessments and keynote presentations, to a request for a proposal on a book on mass casualty school violence, we have been developing several proposals per week for the past two months.

Saddened that Such High Demand Exists

While we love what we do and are not shy of work; however, we are truly saddened that our services are in such demand.  As it is a good idea to have an external school security assessment periodically, it is time for many K12 schools and districts to have an updated outside evaluation.  Fortunately, a proper school security assessment can identify ways to make schools safer and more effective places of learning in many other ways.  My experience has been that while no measures are foolproof, comprehensive and properly conducted school security assessments can prevent many tragic events.

Security Assessments & Jewish Schools

private school safety

Creating safety while still maintaining a positive environment is a challenge for all schools, public or private, anywhere in the world.

Safety Measures in Jewish Schools

Russell Bentley and I had the opportunity to work with another Jewish day school last week.  The project involved helping the school and their architectural firm enhance safety, security and emergency preparedness during a renovation of one of the school’s campuses. Russell’s advanced expertise in school security hardware and school security technologies makes is a pleasure to work with him on these types of projects. We were both deeply impressed with the members of the school’s security force, facilities personnel, head of school and members of the school’s safety team.   Like other Jewish schools we have assessed this year, we found the school safety team at this school to be a true joy to work with.

The school has already implemented many excellent security upgrades based on two previous security assessments, and were very receptive to some of the more advanced security and emergency preparedness concepts we covered. It is always an honor and a pleasure to work with such dedicated, caring and competent advocates for children, especially when we find good practices in place when first working with a new client.

Increased risk of terrorism creates challenges for all schools

With the significantly increased risk of terrorism in the United States, the Jewish school leaders we have worked with are particularly sensitive to this type of risk. The risk of school terrorism is remote, yet Jewish schools are among the types of schools that carry a unique inherent risk exposure relating to terrorism. The same would be true for schools that serve the children of diplomats, or other religious schools that face harassment and could serve as a target for a dangerous individual planning a symbolic attack. We have found that most of these “high risk” (quotes used because the risk is still statistically low) schools are also aware that turning their campuses into fortresses is not necessarily an effective way to achieve a reasonably secure environment.   As an Israeli police commander told me when I went to Israel for anti-terrorism training – terrorists score a win as soon as schools are no longer schools due to overwhelming security measures.   We cannot let terrorists or other violent people cause us to deny children the opportunity to attend a fun and enjoyable school experience. All schools must seek a good balance of effective security and a positive, caring environment.

Like public, charter, military and independent schools, Jewish schools have their own unique needs and challenges. Like all schools, the security threats Jewish schools face are constantly changing. Fortunately, there are many ways to meet these unfortunate realities without sacrificing their uniqueness and maintaining a pleasant atmosphere. My next security assessment is also for a Jewish day school and I am very much looking forward to this opportunity as well.