Missing school security assessment reports, outdated plans, retired members on school safety teams, and high turnover of leaders: Is school safety part of your leadership transition process for new superintendents and principals?

Posted by on March 11, 2024

“We have an entire top leadership turnover since your consultation with us five years ago and nobody can find your assessment report.”

Imagine that being your first call in the morning as a school security consultant. How would you feel?

The good news is that someone remembered that you were there and did something. But you may also feel frustrated and deflated.

It is also frustrating to find outdated school emergency plans at school district and building levels. We have found School Resource Officer (SRO) memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreements outdated by five to ten years. We have even learned that there are  names of retired school building staff members still listed on school safety/crisis/emergency teams (the names still varies district-to-district).

When these issues are flagged we often hear,  “we need to revisit that…,” which in education code language means “we dropped the ball.”

But who are the “we” that dropped it and how can this be prevented from reoccurring?

Everyone should “own” school safety responsibilities. But there should be continuity and continued progress when individual leaders change.

School safety is everyone’s “job” from students to administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and others. This simply means that everyone is responsible in some form for contributing to school safety. Strategic school safety leaders embrace this and engrain it in their school culture.

Emergency plans should be reviewed and updated at least annually. MOU’s for SROs should be reviewed and updated. School safety teams should exist not only on paper but be current, meeting, and vibrant.

We are at time of unprecedented turnover in superintendents and principals (as well as teachers and other school staff). School safety progress must continue regardless of who is in the principal or superintendent seats at any point in time. The first time new building and district leaders learn about their school safety, security, and emergency preparedness should not be when they are forced to react to a specific incident or issue.

When individual leaders transition to new positions, there should be a briefing on school safety at the time of transfer of leadership. Incoming leaders get briefed on curriculum, facilities, and other operations. Why should they not be fully briefed on school safety, security, and emergency preparedness at the time of transfer of power to new superintendents and new principals?

Strategic school safety leaders institutionalize school safety processes

Strategic school safety leadership means institutionalizing school safety planning for continuity beyond the individuals currently holding leadership positions. We want to see leaders engaged in school safety while they hold leadership positions. But if individual leaders are all gone tomorrow, their replacements must be ready to go with school safety on Day One.

Is school safety part of your school and district leadership succession plans?

Dr. Kenneth S. Trump is President of National School Safety and Security Services  

National School Safety and Security Services

Experts You Can Trust!

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