Save Money and Save Lives by Properly Documenting Your School Safety Training Efforts

Law enforcement agencies often go to great pains to document their training efforts.  As law enforcement is a relatively high liability field, officers typically receive fairly detailed training in ways to reduce exposure to civil liability. 

One thing many public safety agencies do very well is to carefully document which personnel attend various forms of training sessions.   Individual agencies document training sessions by tracking attendance by session and individual participants and usually, the state regulatory agency tracks training sessions that are approved for credit by the regulatory agency as well.  This is one effort to help manage civil liability that has worked quite well.  Like schools and institutions of higher learning, law enforcement agencies are often sued for a wide range of issues.  Being able to verify that a particular officer or support employee was adequately trained in a specific topic can be important when expert witnesses conduct a forensic evaluation in a case, when attorneys for both sides are trying to negotiate a settlement as well as in the event of a trial.

More importantly, one of the reasons that proper training documentation helps to reduce risk exposure is that it also helps to reduce the chances that employees will be provided with the training they need in the first place.  Without a system to track and document training in any organization, it can be relatively easy for an employee not to get required or appropriate training.  In the public safety field, this can literally be a life and death matter.  This can also be true in the field of education.

We recommend that school officials adopt documentation efforts similar to those utilized in other fields where liability exposure can be a significant concern.  One of the things we see often when we are conducting school safety assessments and audits is that many of the school employees we interview have not completed training that they were supposed to attend.   As with other fields like law enforcement, this has sometimes become a key point in litigation when people are injured or killed as the result of a school safety incident.

Representatives of area law enforcement and fire service agencies will usually be willing to walk you through the methods they use to document and manage their training efforts.  This could be a no-cost and valuable way to review your organization’s current approach to training documentation.

Taking the time to properly document and track safety related training for school employees can not only reduce exposure to civil liability, it can more importantly reduce the chances that someone gets hurt in the first place.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.