School Board Meeting, School Administrator, and School Office Security and Emergency Planning Consultation and Training

National School Safety and Security Services advises school boards, superintendents, and central office administrators to assess security and emergency plans for school board meetings, school administration buildings, and support sites.

Security is often neglected for school district central office buildings, board meetings, support facilities, and other administrative sites.  Too often, well-intended board members, superintendents, and central office administrators shy away from taking security measures, developing crisis plans, and maintaining crisis teams for their school central office administration buildings and other support sites.  While it is important to focus on school sites, security and emergency plans for school administration sites must also be a part of school district safety planning.

Balancing Parental Engagement and First Amendment Rights with School Board and Administrator Safety:

Potential Threats and Reasons for Concern

Dealing with irate parents may appear to be nothing new to many building administrators. There are also a number of documented cases of threatening and disruptive behavior by irate parents, disgruntled employees and former employees, and other adults who target school superintendents and other central office administrators.  As far back as 1994, a former school employee shot a Florida superintendent six times, killing the superintendent and then leaving the district’s downtown central office only to later kill himself.

But the challenges today are different.  Parents are frustrated and angry, in particular over school COVID-19 mask policies and hot topics such as discussions around “critical race theory” and school curriculum. Political dynamics from the federal level down to local school communities are exacerbating these tensions in some school communities.

School administrators must, however, balance parental engagement and First Amendment rights with reasonable safety, security, and emergency preparedness measures.  Parent engagement and the ability to express their concerns are things that educators support, as do we as professional school safety consultants.  And at times, parental advocacy understandably becomes emotional, especially with issues related to the safety and education of their children.  But parents being emotional does not automatically equate to being threatening, criminal, or a domestic terrorist.

Likewise, while school leaders must manage frustration and complaints, they do not have to stand idle to threats or actual physical harm.  While student safety is unquestionably a priority, too often educators fail to include administration office safety, and the safety of school office employees, in their risk reduction and crisis preparedness measures.  Unfortunately, workplace violence is a growing concern for large and small corporate offices nationwide, and school administration offices and board meeting sites are no different.

In fact, the nature of school operations could place district employees in a position of higher risk than the employees who work in some other types of corporations.  Consider, for example, that:

  • The ever-increasing political nature of school board meetings, and for that matter school politics in general, often draws a presence and attention to school administration offices and the individuals housed in these offices.  It is not unheard of for highly-charged meetings and emotional issues to result in escalated undesirable and threatening behavior.
  • School building offices typically house the principal and assistant principals, counselors, and other school leaders who deal regularly with issues of discipline, school-based crime, interpersonal conflicts, and individual students who may have intense social and emotional issues.  They also deal regularly with parent conferences, some of which may involve parents who are angry, frustrated, and/or very irate.
  •  School district administration offices typically house the offices of the superintendent, board members, personnel department, treasurer, special education staff, and student services hearing officers and staff.  Disgruntled current and former employees, suspended and expelled students, irate parents, job applicants, and other high-risk individuals are very likely to attend hearings, meetings, and visits for other purposes at these types of offices.

Training and Consultation Support for Improving School Administration Office and School Board Meeting Security and Emergency Preparedness

While national education associations, the federal government, and state agencies are likely to chime in with high-level guidance given recent national calls for help following high-profile incidences where school board members and administrators have felt intense public outcry and disruptions, ultimately the final responsibility — and potential liability — for safety at board meetings and for administrators will rest at the local level.  Local boards and school leaders will be tasked with responsibilities for implementing security, preparedness, and associated risk reduction measures (not the federal government).

We can evaluate your schools’ security and emergency preparedness measures, and train your board members and administrators, to proactively identify risk reduction measures that can be taken to reduce and respond to administration office and board meeting safety threats.  Our independent, apolitical professional school safety training and consulting supports may include to :

  • Training/briefing on research and lessons learned on strategic crisis leadership and risk/crisis communications for school leaders
  • Evaluate threat assessment protocols that apply to threats made to school board meetings, administrators, and office staff.  Incidences have occurred where threats have been made to harm to district-level coordinators, supervisors, directors, superintendents, and board members
  • Assess and identify a multitude of strategies for board meeting security including physical security and procedural risk reduction considerations.
  • Evaluate emergency preparedness guidelines for school administration sites and board meetings
  • Include administration offices, both at the building and district levels, in school security assessments conducted for your district (if we are conducting an assessment consultation for your district)
  • Train administrators and school office staff (including secretaries and receptionists) on appropriate security policies and procedures, threat assessment and management, office safety measures, and district emergency guidelines
  • Identify crime prevention layout and design recommendations for administrative offices and meeting sites.
  • Identify and evaluate methods to consider for reducing and controlling access to district central offices and support facilities
  • Establish basic procedures for conducting potentially high-risk meetings and hearings
  • Design and facilitate tabletop exercises for board members, administrators, and crisis teams to work through hypothetical scenarios
  • Other school and district-unique safety, security, and emergency preparedness questions, issues, and considerations

There are numerous risk reduction measures that can be taken to improve school administration office and board meeting security.  The failure to take appropriate steps for reducing security risks at school office facilities and public meetings may place school employees at greater risk and may also lead to greater liability on the part of the district should an incident of crime or violence occur that could have been prevented by reasonable safety measures.

Our services can include remote (Zoom or similar platform) consultation and training, on-site services, or a hybrid model for efficient and cost-effective services.

For more information on our services, email Ken Trump or call him directly at 216-251-3067.

To read more on the subject, read Ken’s District Administration article on Administration Center and Board Security