This week, Colorado School Grades is partnering with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues.
by Heidi Ganahl
At Mom’s Fight Back, our main concern is keeping children safe. One of the best ways to do this is to address, understand and improve school safety. With the standard of School Choice, we have learned that choosing the right school for your child is hard enough when you are simply comparing teachers, curriculum, and performance. A vital element of your research however, should focus on school safety standards and procedures. When trying to determine the security and safety of a school, parents should speak with school officials, research the neighborhood and look into the history of school violence in the area.
The 2013 Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report, created by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, stated, “For parents, school staff, and policymakers to effectively address school crime, they need an accurate understanding of the extent, nature, and context of the problem. However, it is difficult to gauge the scope of crime and violence in schools given the large amount of attention devoted to isolated incidents of extreme school violence.” While it may be difficult to get the full picture of school safety, it is important to ask questions and seek out those in charge of school safety.
To help you get started with your research, we have curated 7 important questions you can ask when searching for the safest school for your children. To learn more, please visit www.ColoradoSchoolGrades.com, Education World, or ReGroup.Com.
1. Is there a point person who is responsible for school safety and can answer questions or make decisions if something happens / or if there is a policy concern?
2. Are there specific and easy to understand policies and procedures enforced in regards to school safety?
3. Does the school regularly exercise safety drills to prepare for evacuation or lockdown situations?
4. What prevention efforts are being made to eliminate safety threats? Is there an effective anti-bullying program in place? What is the school’s response to troubled students?
5. Are students, teachers and personnel trained on what to do and how to survive a shooting event or other violent attack?
6. Is there a clear coordination plan between the school and local first responders in preparation for an emergency situation? (A Crisis Response Plan is recommended as it is co-developed by the school and local law enforcement.) What plans are there for clear communication and effective mitigation of threats?
7. In the event of a crisis, what does the school want parents to do? What is their role in helping with the emergency, where do they call, where do they pick up their kids, what kind of documentation do parents need?
The National School Safety and Security Services created a list of 10 Practical Things Parents Can Do To Assess School Security and Crisis Preparedness that may also be helpful when researching schools. One of their suggestions is to simply ask your children about the safety in the school they are currently attending. Students will likely be aware of any security issues that exist or what would help them feel safer at school. The article also provides multiple questions that you can ask school officials and school safety specialists to create a clearer picture of the school’s safety status.
If you need help getting started on what to look for when researching schools in general or going on school tours, www.ColoradoSchoolGrades.com has a great article that provides helpful tips. Once you have come up with a list of potential schools, www.ColoradoSchoolGrades.com also offers a tool to compare up to four schools at a time.
Heidi Ganahl, founder and CEO of Camp Bow Wow and The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, is also the founder of Moms Fight Back. Moms Fight Back is building a community of Colorado moms to tackle the issues only a mom is brave enough to take on! Our mission is to make moms the most important players in politics and problem solving for a happier, healthier, safer world for our kids! We may not be soldiers on the front lines, but we are soldiers nonetheless, fighting for our children’s lives; fighting to keep our kids healthy, sane, happy, safe. If not us, then who? Take the first step and join the army of moms at Moms Fight Back!