Federal Bulletin Stirs Ambiguous Fears Over School Bus Security
A bulletin recently released by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security cautions local law enforcement that foreigners with ties to extremist groups have obtained school bus licenses.
Following the release of the bulletin, however, an FBI spokesman said, "Parents and children have nothing to fear."
The bulletin does not say how often foreign extremists have sought to acquire licenses to drive buses, or where exactly. It was released as part of what officials say is a routine FBI and Homeland Security advisory to local law enforcement.
"While no one wishes to be alarmist, our public officials need to make schools as important of a homeland security protection concern as they have bridges, monuments, and the hallways of Capitol Hill itself," says Kenneth S. Trump, the president of National School Safety and Security Services.
The bulletin states that foreigners under recent investigation who either drive school buses or are licensed to include "some with ties to extremist groups."
At the same time, the bulletin makes it clear that the FBI and Homeland Security have no information that indicates any of those individuals are involved in a terrorist plot, and it also notes that "most attempts by foreign nationals in the U.S. to acquire school bus licenses are legitimate."
The FBI says the bulletin was sent out merely as an educational tool to help local police identify and respond to any suspicious activity.
Trump says that de-emphasizing the bulletin reflects how school security has been turned into a political issue. According to him, there is a mindset in our nation's capital that if public officials discuss schools and terrorism, they will alarm parents. Federal officials, he says, are hesitant to really address the issue of school buses as potential terror targets because they have been cutting funds for school security and emergency planning over the past several years.
"It's like being pregnant you're either pregnant or you're not, but there is no in between," he says.
The FBI has urged law enforcement agencies around the country to watch for kids' safety, and districts would do well to at least consider possible re screening procedures for bus drivers.
School Safety and Security Seminars
In October our EduComm Leadership Series will sponsor two one-day seminars on school safety and security, in Framingham, Mass., and Tarrytown, N.Y. The events will be led by leading national experts William Modzeleski, associate assistant deputy secretary of the USDE Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools; Willie Freeman, director of security and chief investigator for Newark (N.J.) Public Schools; and Scott Poland, chairman of the National Association of School Psychologists Emergency Assistance Team.
The sessions will help you learn how to keep your schools safe, secure and inviting; identify and control potential problems before they erupt into crises; respond to trouble in ways that will protect your school community; and pay for school security services with state and federal funding sources.
Registration begins on July 16. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Web Resources for School Security
Keep Schools Safe (www.keepschoolssafe.org)
A school violence prevention, safety and security resource.
National Crime Prevention Council (www.ncpc.org)
The nation's leader in helping people keep themselves, their families and their communities safe from crime.
National Education Association (www.nea.org/schoolsafety)
Resources on approaches and strategies to address the root causes of violence among students.
A group of 13- to 18-year-old volunteers that have been specially trained by local law enforcement and many other leading safety experts in all aspects of online safety, privacy and security.
For more editor's picks on a variety of K12 topics, visit www.districtadministration.com/hotlist.