Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March Board of Ed: School safety

You can (sigh) download the Word doc backup here, which includes, "Issues of school safety are of course intertwined with school climate genearlly, including mental health support for students, social-emotional earning, student engagement, and community-based services." There is a slightly crazy amount of press here. 

Sagan: a lot of press interest in this topic; will take a break after this topic so press may speak to Secretary
asked Commissioner to come back at this meeting about what we know in Massachusetts

Wulfson: Board did ask for briefing on issue of school safety
various state statutes that apply; resources from DESE and other departments
"topic is approached from two very different dimensions"
building security and response to incidents in buildings
"equally important is the social and emotional health of our students"
"intervene with students who may be troubled and may be prone to perpetrating these horrific acts"

 there are a boatload of people who are at the table to speak who I have no hope of catching names from 

The Department has been working with schools in a variety of ways since late 80's
multi-hazard planning law in 2000
each district required to review annually and update their plan
beginning of each school year, students are to be instructed in their plan

Julie Hackett, superintendent in Taunton
put many emergency plans in place, double school guidance counselors
built a number of positions for school safety
recently, student made a number of comments to a school resource officer about threats
was handled well, was no weaponry, were able to assure safety of students very quickly
"then the conversation changed to the walkout"
met with students; "wanted students to express themselves"
they wanted to go outside; students outside at a designated time announced to the whole world
some superintendents had emergency personnel on site
others kept it lower key
"students acted very respectfully, and it was not an issue at all"
"how complicated all these facets of school safety can be"
for MASS, there are two key issues for us:
one is on mental health
another is on infrastructure
mental health is very often a resource issue
making sure that students who are struggling know that they belong
proverb shared with her: "the child who is not embraced by the village burns it down to feel the heat"
"have the need and the mandate, but we don't always have the funding"
we are individually figuring out what each school needs to keep it safe
lengthy discussion at recent school building committee about window glass
"no real repository of information to help guide us"
issue is training as well: have some information "about research-based practices"

Dudley police chief Steven J. Wojnar currently Mass Chiefs of Police Association president
"want to involve ourselves as much as we can in those schools" as in any other part of the community
"have been a big proponent of school resource officer"
comments "anyone who thinks that the police are going to show up and everyone is going to get arrested has missed the boat"
but not the research, which supports that conclusion
Every community is going to allow for a certain level of risk
"that's their district's ability to choose that"
police review building to seek some low cost solutions; glad to work with anyone along the way

from MSBA: have consulted with the school building committee on design of new building on safety
designers themselves have security consultants on the design

emergency plans are not incident based; they're response-based
"there are a lot of little things every day"
Sagan: can we be assured that the plans that are supposed to be there
Wulfson: as is always the case with plans,"we can check the boxes that they have been written" but can't be there for the conversations that should be happening

Sagan asks if there is MSBA funding for safety
beyond windows, doors, boilers...no

Trimarchi: Parkland students have amassed a platform to talk not only about school safety but about outside of school safety as well
importance of schools in communities at large
what about supporting those students in those communities?
Hackett: crossing guards at intersections
community facilitators
youth crisis intervention teams
"ready made model of response for situations that we don't know how to handle or can't predict"
Wojnar: hopes that will get this generation involved as that age group hasn't voted and hasn't gotten involved
"like that program where someone goes and sits with someone at lunch"
and also social media
Trimarchi: role of school resource officers
Wojnar: need the right person; "most are parents"
for people who are apprehensive about program "have to have more conversations"
Hackett: have a much different role: "can't act like a police officer on the street"
but what of those who don't have different expectations?
Wulfson: are school resource officers trained?
Wojnar: training is out there, but it isn't required
Hackett notes that superintendent and chief of police evaluate the SRO

Stewart: how does it look each year?
Hackett: best use of time for us is the drills that we practice
emergency responders sit with leadership; what they're going to look for during the drill
meaningful information that we're looking at; "creates a system for us to look at that"

West: particularly interested in school resource officers
"what we actually require as a matter of statute"
can petition not to do so if they think that's not a good strategy for their district
he's missing that it's also "subject to appropriation" part of the law
The requirement doesn't exist, because funding has never been appropriated
Sagan: how funded?
Hackett: part of net school spending; indirect cost
Wulfson: good and bad, as it limits funding for other things
Sagan: it is a tradeoff; it's not separately funded? to general agreement

McKenna: what can we do to support you, so you aren't all individually trying to figure this out?
"how can we be a resource to ease the burden on you individually?"
Hackett: that's what I was trying to convey when I talked about a repository of information
net school spending is a plus for us, because every dollar is a challenge

Doherty: "I think people are doing the best job they can" with the resources they have
drills "that will minimize the casualities not prevent them"
"one thing that the Board can do is advocate for more funding for our schools, whether that is fully funding the foundation budget or passing the millionaires' tax"
"those students go well beyond talking about what is happening in schools; they're talking about what is happening in our society as a whole"
protect students not only in school "but when they go home, or when they're in their neighborhoods"
"what the students were asking for last Saturday is not just...other kinds of protections in schools; they're asking that assault weapons be banned; they're asking for full background checks; they're asking that no one should buy a weapon til they're 21"
thinks that the Board should support full platform of students

Craven: how much training and logistics is necessary for arming teachers?
Wojnar: a good hundred hours of basic training each year
"great majority" of members "we're not comfortable with untrained individuals" being in schools

Morton: are you in the process of creating standards for school resource officers? (asks the chief)
Wojnar: "I'd say that's a constant ongoing thing"
meet four and five times a year with the DA's office
"to collaborate with the principals and the superintendents"
share what is happening in our schools
none of that is training

Sagan: homework assignment of pulling together a repository of information
"we are not a legislative body...we are not an editorial body, but we felt that this issue rose above the level of concern"

Doherty makes motion to adopt resolution on guns in school
"believes that arming educators will make schools less safe and opposes any move to do so"

Moriarty: a couple of concerns with document as intended
"I don't want to see resolutions happening on a regular basis"
asks for amendment on third item to ensure that SROs are welcome in schools
"by other than law enforcement" is motion to add around guns being carried in school
McKenna: propose to strike final "whereas" which is "would compromise safe and supportive environment that is essential for learning"

Peyser is now reading a statement
"make sure that we don't get distracted by the proposal [to arm teachers] that has been brought forward"

McKenna: asked Parkland students "how did you get to be who you are?" and every single one of them said "because of my teachers"

full text is here

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