Sample questions to facilitate the board’s discussion on school safety may include the following, taken from “Safe Schools," pages 56-63:
Link to student achievement and development:
The following questions are intended to focus the school board’s discussion on the relationship between student safety and the district’s vision for student achievement and development. The term “development” includes the social, emotional and physical development of students.
- Why is school safety important to student achievement and development?
- What does the research show about the relationship between safety and student achievement and development?
- How will policies on safety contribute to improved student achievement and development?
Policy topic components:
Below are the basic components that a board should understand and/or address in crafting a series of safety-related policies. Component statements are not intended to be policy language. Each component statement is a key concept related to the topic, but not the policy language itself. Each component is intended to frame an issue or identify concerns and interests that the board would want to address in a policy on this topic. Under each component statement are questions that may help guide the board’s discussion of the component.
1. The board believes that safe school environments will support the district’s vision for student achievement and development.
- What statements related to school safety are included in the district’s vision and goals?
2. All students, regardless of race, ability, gender, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics, have a right to a safe school environment.
- Do students feel safe at school?
- What do district data reveal about trends and patterns of harassment, discrimination and violence at district schools?
- What types of harassment, discrimination and violence are most common? When and where is it most likely to occur, which students are most vulnerable to being targeted, and who are the most frequent offenders? What are the federal and state legal requirements related to nondiscrimination?
3. The district and/or school sites shall maintain comprehensive safety plans which meet the requirements of law and identify effective strategies and programs to be implemented.
- What are the legal requirements related to the development of comprehensive safety plans?
- Does the district have a districtwide safety plan? Does each school site have a safety plan?
- To what extent are the comprehensive safety plans being implemented, monitored and updated as needed?
- What safety-related programs currently exist within the school system and the community?
- Do current programs address prevention, as well as intervention?
- What services does the district provide for student victims and perpetrators of harassment, discrimination and violence?
- What is the estimated cost of providing new programs?
- What financing options are available to provide programs?
4. The district shall explore opportunities to develop partnerships with other agencies and organizations within the community to help children be safe.
- To what extent is violence a problem within the community?
- What are the key community organizations and agencies that work to support the social and emotional needs of school-age children?
- What processes can be put in place to encourage ongoing collaboration and partnerships between these entities and the school district?
- What role should the district play in supporting safety-related programs within the community?
5. The district shall develop procedures to appropriately handle all reports of harassment, discrimination and violence.
- What procedures are currently in place to handle harassment, discrimination or violence against students? Do these procedures address reporting mechanisms, investigation of reports, and due process for alleged victims, perpetrators and witnesses?
- Are these procedures implemented effectively, from the perspective of students and families, as well as educators?
- What improvements are needed?
6. Safety-related curriculum shall be age appropriate, shall be aligned with state standards and shall reflect the beliefs of the community.
- Which safety-related topics are currently taught in the district?
- In what courses and at what grade levels?
- What is the process for piloting and approving the health and safety curriculum in the district?
- Does the curriculum development process include a review of available research-based local, state, national and/or international curriculum models?
- Does the curriculum development process include sufficient opportunities for input from teachers, administrators, safety personnel, parents and guardians and others?
7. Teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators shall receive ongoing professional development to both prevent and respond to incidents of harassment, discrimination and violence.
- Does the district have a professional development plan to support school staff in school safety efforts?
- What are the costs associated with providing training and professional development of this kind? Are there sufficient funds for the district to provide safety training for staff?
8. The district shall engage parents and guardians as essential partners in the district’s school safety efforts.
- What processes are or can be put in place to incorporate parent input into the district’s safety strategies, programs and curricula?
- What information can be provided to parents and guardians to support their children’s social, emotional and cognitive development and to promote attitudes of tolerance and acceptance within and beyond the home?
- What information and support can be provided to parents and guardians to help them identify early warning signs that their child may be a victim or perpetrator of harassment, discrimination or violence and to help them access appropriate complaint procedures and support services?
9. The board shall continually monitor the effectiveness of safety related programs.
- What indicators can be used to assess the effectiveness of the district’s safety-related policies and programs? Are these indicators aligned with the district’s immediate, short-term and long-term goals for the safety programs?
- What type of reports does the board expect to receive, and how often?
- How will the evaluation process be related to program planning?
Assessment of existing policy:
- List the board policy or policies related to safety.
- Does each policy include a focus on student achievement and development? How?
- Are the administrative regulations consistent with the board policy?
- Does district practice comply with policy/administrative regulations?
- Does the policy reflect current legal requirements?