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Articles: Security

Prior to Dec. 14, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) had its 2013 agenda set. However, like many others in the K12 education community, on that dreadful day of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn, CAPSS’ priorities changed. We spoke with Executive Director Joe Cirasuolo about how the association has redirected its efforts this year to focus on helping administrators improve their crisis management systems and strategies to help prevent an attack such as the one in Newtown from happening again.

On Friday, December 14, 2012, as our January 2013 issue was about to be published, we received the horrifying news with the rest of the world about the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a community just 35 miles from our office. Several staff members have ties to the town and the children of a colleague are students at the school. But while we were relieved that our colleague’s children were safe, we were grief-stricken at the loss of so many others.

A therapist encouraged the writer’s son to write a letter to him, explaining what the boy saw, to help his parents and specialists better understand his fears.

Starting to feel safe again after the Sandy Hook tragedy

NBC flew Kenneth S. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, to Connecticut the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings for a live interview on The Today Show. He provided a number of cable news interviews throughout the day. “Nothing was more powerful than seeing firsthand the shell-shocked faces of Newtown’s residents and the images of a picture-perfect American community that will be forever changed,” Trump said. The following are his thoughts for district administrators.

Superstorm Sandy swept the East Coast in late October, leaving not only residents and businesses without power and struggling to stay afloat, but thousands of schools in the region without power as well. It reminded administrators of the need for comprehensive emergency plans to ensure student, staff, and data security.

Though states are making progress in supporting effective school data use, they must do more to ensure that stakeholders like teachers and parents can easily access information, according to the annual state analysis report, “Data for Action 2012,” released by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates school data access for all stakeholders.

Update: The hearing scheduled for Nov. 28 on Andrea Hernandez’s request to stay at John Jay High School was cancelled, after Northside ISD filed a motion to move the case from state to federal court. The district issued the following statement: “Since the Jay High School student and her father are alleging a violation of the student's federal constitutional rights, Northside ISD asked that the case be heard in federal court. The case scheduled to be heard today in State court has been canceled and now will rest with a Federal judge to make a ruling.

Gone are the days of crumpled bills at Carroll County Public Schools in Baltimore, Md. A cafeteria sales system implemented this school year uses a high-tech infrared hand scanner to access student accounts with pre-deposited money, to speed up time spent in the lunch line. However, some parents are concerned with their child’s security, especially since they were not informed of the change until the scanners were already in place.

New Hampshire’s Nashua School District stood up to a challenge of discrimination this year, allowing a transgender third grade student to attend a new elementary school as a female, despite her biological status as a male. “It’s our policy not to discriminate against any student, and that would include transgender students,” Superintendent Mark Conrad stated.

Visitor management programs and software are a growing trend in K12 schools, according to Chuck Hibbert, a national school security consultant and the retired director of security for Wayne Township Schools in Indianapolis. In some districts, schools are using additional software that checks visitors against sexual predator and/or criminal databases. One of the more popular programs is Raptorware by Raptor Technologies.

CIO camera

School principals are in the middle of a balancing act when it comes to security. They need to create a welcoming, supportive open environment for students, parents, and credible community visitors who have legitimate purposes in their buildings, while they also have to keep out individuals who potentially have “ill intentions,” says Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a national consulting firm specializing in school security and emergency preparedness training, school security assessments and school and crisis counseling services.

07/2012 to 08/2012
guidance counselors

The national appetite for combating bullying at the elementary and secondary level in many cases is outpacing the ability of school districts to hire the guidance counselors who head up such efforts, although increased awareness of and sophistication in handling bullying over the past decade are beginning to have a positive effect, counselors say.


Even if you haven’t seen Bully, you most likely know it’s a documentary, featuring six students nationwide who were tormented physically and verbally in school for simply being considered different by their peers. One of the leading storylines was of Alex Libby, a student at East Middle School in the Sioux City (Iowa) Community Schools. The camera crew filmed students taunting Alex with degrading names, aggressively choking, shoving and jabbing him on the school bus, and ignoring him during recess.

graduation, communities in school

At last, K12 educators can see the results of money well spent. Community in Schools, a nonprofit organization that serves nearly 1.3 million students in 3,400 schools, not only increases high school graduation rates, but also creates more than $11 of economic benefit for a community for every dollar invested in CIS, according to an analysis released in May by EMSI, an economic modeling firm. The organization currently boasts an 87 percent nationwide graduation rate.