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Why Every School Needs a Safety Team

With more than 346 school shootings in 2023 alone, the importance of school safety has become a top concern in nearly every district around the country. Recently, a group of experts got together during a ZeroNow webinar to discuss this very topic and outline best practices that schools should follow to make sure they have the right infrastructure, planning and collaboration required to keep their students and staff safe from whatever threat comes their way in the future.

Speakers on the panel included the following, each of whom represented backgrounds in safety, law enforcement and experiencing a school shooting:

  • Jill Lemond, former Assistant Superintendent of Safety and School Operations at Oxford Community Schools
  • Kelly Martin, Deputy Director of School Safety at Seminole County Sheriff's Office and Seminole County Public Schools
  • Ron Self, Director of Security at Little Rock School District

As the speakers pointed out, based on a recent poll, many schools already have a designated safety director. Even though the ultimate responsibility often falls on the superintendent, the speakers stressed the importance of having a dedicated safety director, especially in larger districts or where there are complex safety needs. This role then becomes part of a larger “school safety team” that ensures collaboration between various personnel including principals, law enforcement and other school staff.

One example presented in the webinar was Seminole County where the school safety and security director work with point people at each school, including the school resource officer (SRO) and principals, to ensure safety measures are effectively communicated and implemented across campuses. Speakers highlighted the benefits of this communication even post incident where having clear, centralized leadership for safety measures is key, with suggestions for including parents and a broader community in safety planning and decision-making.

The Value of Training and Resources

The speakers discussed the importance of training for both safety coordinators and SROs, with emphasis on specific programs and resources available for enhancing school safety knowledge and practices. Building relationships and fostering communication among all stakeholders involved in school safety, including law enforcement, educators and students, was stressed as essential for effective safety management.

Challenges and Considerations

The panel also discussed the challenges of implementing and managing school safety across different school sizes and resources. The significance of adapting safety measures to the specific needs and capabilities of each school district was underscored, with a call for creative solutions to involve the community and use available resources efficiently.

The Journey Towards Safer Schools

Protecting our schools from the threat of mass shootings and other gun violence has reached an all-time high. While this panel presented a few best practices, it’s wise to remember the importance of dedicated leadership in school safety, continuous training and the need for a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders. If your district does not yet have a dedicated safety direction, then get one. If your cameras are recording video feed that is not being viewed in real time, look at AI visual gun detection software to turn them into 24/7 monitors. It is up to each school to set themselves up for success on their journey to a safer learning environment. 

Learn more about ZeroNow and the Path to Safer Schools.