How Principals Can Conduct Integrity Checks on Safety Plans

Posted by on September 14, 2011

Principals need leadership, not just money, to make their schools safer and better prepared for emergencies.

While presenting a Monday regional workshop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, on “Focusing on Fundamentals” of security and emergency preparedness, an assistant principal reminded me how easy and cost-effective it can be to stay on top of their school crisis planning.

Low Cost, High Impact Integrity Checks on School Security and Crisis Guidelines

During a break, he explained to me how his school district maintains its emergency/crisis plan on the district’s intranet system so teachers can pull it up on their computers.  But he suspected a number of teachers had not reviewed the plan.  So he randomly visited three classrooms and asked the teachers to pull up the plan on their classroom computer.

The administrator’s worst fears were realized as none of the three teachers knew how to access the plan on their computers.

This was a great example of how school administrators can conduct “integrity checks” of their security and emergency / crisis plans without spending money.  Other checks can be made too without spending a lot (or for that matter, any) money.

For example, several years ago one school district engaged support from a local university class to test their access control and staff awareness.   Over a designated period of time, the college students fanned out across the city and tested school security by recording how far they could walk through the schools without being stopped.  It was not surprising to learn that the majority could walk fairly easily and far too long throughout the district’s schools before being stopped.

I also learned about a building administrator who conducted detailed inspections and debriefings of lockdowns at his school.  He had the courage to tally “by-name” accounts of who did and did not follow procedures. Then he distributed the final debriefing to all staff.  During the next drill, he saw dramatic improvement in staff performance.

And over the years, when introduced to school secretaries while we do our assessment consultations, I kindly ask them to show me their bomb threat checklists. Too often, these beloved staff members had to get up, leave their desk areas, and dig  their plans out of a file cabinet or drawer on the other side of the room.

Time and Leadership Key to School Safety

School officials do not have to wait for beefed up budgets to keep their fingers on the pulse of school safety.  They do need to exert leadership and dedicate some time to the process. By conducting their own integrity checks, administrators can help make a difference.

Are your school administrators demonstrating active leadership on school safety?

Ken Trump

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