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crisis response

In December, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools gave $50,000 each to three districts recovering from multiple student suicides. The grant, Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SER V), funds recovery projects in districts after a traumatic event has occurred that disrupts the learning environment.

When we hear about school shootings, we typically think of them occurring in schools—not at school board meetings. But that was not the case on Dec. 14, when 56-year-old Clay Duke fired multiple shots at Superintendent Bill Husfelt and board members during an afternoon meeting of the Bay County (Fla.) School District in Panama City.

Many are aware of the practical implications of sexual harassment of students by school staff, but such situations can also have considerable legal implications, as well.

While the legal aspects of staff-to-student sexual harassment take a back seat to the moral and emotional considerations, the legal framework provides school administrators with a helpful basis for drafting policies, conducting investigations, and making decisions.

From costly lawsuits on behalf of victims to negative media coverage, such as the one recently played out in the District of Columbia Public Schools when Chancellor Michelle Rhee stated that one teacher was laid off for suspicion of sexual misconduct, districts can face potentially devastating consequences as a result of sexual abuse of their students by district employees.

Cell phones were banned from most schools years ago, but after the Columbine High School and 9/11 tragedies, parents started pressuring some school boards and administrators to reverse the bans. On its surface, allowing students to have cell phones under the guise of improved school safety may seem like a “no-brainer” to many board members and administrators. But an in-depth analysis suggests that while students having cell phones may make parents feel better, it actually could create a less safe situation in a school crisis.

In Fort Lauderdale in March, students and teachers were in shock following the news that a three-vehicle accident involving a semi-trailer truck had killed a Broward County Public Schools fourth-grade teacher, as well as injuring her four grandchildren and another teacher. Numerous parents, staff and students passed the scene of the accident, and rumors began flying.

At times such as this, administrators need to have procedures in place to stifle rumors and help the school community manage its grief. These tips can help.


When school administrators hear that the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School attack will arrive on April 20, 2009, most shake their heads in disbelief. They are amazed that 10 years have passed since this watershed event, which changed the landscape of K12 school safety.


School Security Plans Skirt Law

All of Georgia's 184 public school districts may have a security plan, but not all districts can say their plan has the approval of the state, according to a recent Associated Press review of state data.