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Articles: Security

Psychologists from Boston Public Schools participate in PD events as part of the district’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.

In many schools, psychologists have time for little more than assessing students. That prevents them from using their range of skills in counseling, data analysis and preventing bullying, suicide and violence. 

 QT can smell vapors from weapons such as ammunition or bombs in backpacks, even when they are no longer in the area.
student demonstrator carries shotgun shells in his backpack, and QT immediately picks up the scent.
QT the service dog now walks the halls of Calhoun County Schools searching for illegal substances.
Each dog trained in vapor wake detection must go through a six-month training at Auburn University, and pass a certification to be available for purchase.

Security dogs trained to detect the vapors in ammunition and bombs are being used in school district security for the first time. Calhoun County Schools in Alabama became the first district in the nation this year to pilot a vapor wake detection service with a canine officer.

A Missouri district is actively looking for warning signs of truancy.

Teachers and other educators in Liberty Public Schools are asked to take quick action if, for instance, a student has stopped participating or has become withdrawn in class, says Jim Hammen, director of student services for the 12,000-student district north of Kansas City.

Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age and author of several books on bullying.

When we talk about bullying, what do we mean? Unfortunately, the answer is far from clear.

Educators are taught one definition, while most state statutes have yet another definition. Worse, surveys are based on a variety of definitions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Education, and Health Resources and Services Administration partnered with bullying experts to develop a uniform definition of bullying. In January 2014, the new definition was:

SROs like Kevin Quinn, above, past president of the National Association of School Resource Officers, teach lessons as part of the job.

Districts working to prevent mass shootings and other violent campus attacks are hiring more school resource officers to patrol their buildings, particularly at the elementary level. These SROs, elevated from a more passive role, are now an integral part of school safety planning.

Though more districts are hiring school resource officers to keep students safe, some argue that schools with SROs have more student arrests than schools without the officers, contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Districts including San Diego USD received a mine-resistent ambush protected vehicle like this one from a federal program that provides surplus military equipment to local police. (Photo: Creative Commons: U.S. Navy)

Grenade launchers and M16s are some of the weapons school districts are now giving back to the U.S. government. Now, amid widespread criticism, some districts have returned the weapons to the military.

Students are safer in schools, like the one above, that have Data Management Inc.’s Visitor Pass Solutions Software. It gathers updated data on all visitors.

School visitors are no longer just writing their names in a notebook when they sign in. Districts are now scanning fingerprints and eyes to check if a visitor or contractor has a criminal record. The new methods not only provide background checks, but can also track how many times someone has visited a school.

A Grand Rapids Public Schools interventionist sits with students on an academic assignment while also discussing cooperation and working together—illustrating the teaching component to the restorative justice discipline method.

Districts large and small, urban and rural, are revamping discipline as increasing numbers of experts and educators find that zero-tolerance—and widespread suspension and expulsion—has been ineffective and even discriminatory.

KeepNTrack software scans each visitor’s driver’s license and runs a check through a sexual predator database for all 50 states.

Administrators at Brevard County Public Schools in Florida have enhanced security this school year with a new system that automatically runs sexual predator checks on all visitors and streamlines the process for volunteers.

About 12 percent of male and 8 percent of female high school athletes reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes at least once in the past year—an increase from previous years, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse.

Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age and author of books on bullying.

This is the disturbing opening from a Los Angeles Times article published a year ago:

“Two students from separate schools committed suicide within days of each other this month—which is National Bullying Prevention Month—and both boys apparently had been bullied. Now, parents are asking questions not just about bullying but also about anti-bullying videos, which both schools aired shortly before the incidents.”

With electronic cigarette use among middle and high school students having more than doubled over the past three years, administrators nationwide are banning these products on campus.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives in aerosol form. The FDA Center for Tobacco Products said last spring that it will regulate e-cigarettes but has not yet issued any rules. Until the FDA does more intensive testing of these products, little will be know about the chemicals inhaled or the potential impact on health.

Districts that treat students with emotional disabilities with a “one-size-fits-all” behavioral approach across the system must change their policies, according to federal findings in a case against the Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia.

Angela Ciolfi, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s JustChildren Program, and two other attorneys filed a complaint in November of 2012 with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education.

North East ISD in San Antonio banned all but clear or mesh backpacks after a  student allegedly brought three loaded guns and a knife to a high school in April.

Recent school stabbings and cases of students caught with weapons have driven some districts to ban traditional cloth backpacks in favor of easily searchable clear or mesh bags.