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Articles: Security

Youths take advantage of anonymous apps like Yik Yak may not always be aware of the potential consequences.

Parents have taken over Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter. This has sent device-laden students flocking to social media apps such as Instagram, SnapChat and Yik Yak, and the shift has created new challenges for administrators trying to root out cyberbullying and threats of violence.

Privacy is key. At Carl Sandburg High School in the Consolidated High School District in Illinois, above, Chief Technology Officer John Connolly, on right, discusses with a teacher some of the data and privacy features to be aware of when working with different apps.

Attacks by external hackers on Sony and Target make big headlines, but in K12 the threats more often come from the inside. Plaguing districts with increasing frequency are distributed denial of service attacks that, for pure mischief’s sake, saturate servers with so many external communications requests that they cannot respond to legitimate school traffic.

Students served by Oakland USD’s Office of African American Male Achievement have increased GPAs compared to their peers.

Oakland USD created the Office of African American Male Achievement to develop a sense of pride and identity in the black male student community, in hopes of raising achievement and eliminating harmful discipline policies. Now, other large districts across the nation are following suit to close achievement gaps and to help this population reach college- and career-readiness.

Oakland USD’s restorative justice program emphasizes having students make amends for disruptive behavior instead of suspending them.

A restorative justice program that focuses less on suspensions and more on students making amends for disruptive behavior is gaining traction in Oakland USD, and will be implemented in all of the district’s 86 schools over the next five years.

Brian Woods, superintendent of Northside ISD in San Antonio, serves on a regional truancy committee. His district hit a record 96 percent attendanc last school year.

District leaders across the country are broadening and personalizing their approaches to attendance because the old way of sending truants and their families to court often fails to bring students back to school.

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. 

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.

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