I have had a great time keynoting two school safety conferences for the Maine Department of Education last week. I have been fortunate to have been asked to keynote conferences for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Maine Department of Education, and the Maine School Facilities Director’s Association earlier this year. This week’s conferences near Bangor and Portland were also well-attended and productive events. It was truly a pleasure to interact with so many dedicated and caring advocates for the children in this beautiful state.
School Safety Efforts Based on the All-hazards Approach
Like their counterparts in many other state departments of education we have worked with recently, the Maine Department of Education has been emphasizing the need for school and public safety officials to maintain a balanced and assessment-based approach to safety. With alarmist and emotive approaches to school safety that have not been validated becoming so common, we are pleased to see so many state departments of education taking thoughtful and fact-based approaches.
Multi-disciplinary Collaboration is a Key to School Safety
The Maine Department of Education has been collaborating extensively with the Maine State Police, Maine Emergency Management Agency, and Maine State Fire Marshall’s Office. State agency personnel and representatives from many professional associations have also been working closely with one another to help further enhance the state’s efforts to support local school systems. The state legislature has also been a driving force in what has been one of the more thoughtful statewide approaches to school safety assessment in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. This has helped to prevent the highly emotive and ineffective knee-jerk reactions we have seen in a few regions of the country.
An Assessment-based Approach to School Safety
The Maine legislature directed the Maine Department of Education to conduct a statewide school safety assessment in 2013. Safe Havens was honored to be selected to assist the Department in conducting this assessment. More importantly, we are thankful that the leadership from so many key organizations in Maine have collaborated in school safety approaches that are based on a thorough assessment process. We applaud the thoughtful, patient, and practical efforts that are providing so many free resources for Maine school officials and community partner agencies.