This article recently appeared in Public School Risk Institute's Risk Central, written by Paul Timm. He offers an excellent list of questions at the end for administrators to consider in the prevention of another tragedy.
School Safety: Establishing Separation Policies and Procedures Can Save Lives
Paul Timm - March 03, 2011
Less than 30 days after the tragic shooting in January at a school in Omaha, Neb. – where a suspended high school student killed an administrator who had earlier disciplined him – another school administrator was shot and killed in Northern California.
Just like in Nebraska, the perpetrator – a custodian who had just been fired – was able to return to the elementary school and access the office of the administrator who had delivered the news of his dismissal.
In the first instance, the student actually signed the visitor registry before being granted access to the assistant principal’s office. In the second instance, the custodian simply walked right into the principal’s office.
These tragic incidents could have been prevented. But it shouldn’t take a tragedy on campus to be the impetus for school administrators to address separation policies and practices.
If you’re a school administrator reading this article, here’s a question for you: Have you taken steps to review and develop separation policies? If not, let me implore you to learn from the tragedies in Nebraska, Northern California, and far too many other places where school shootings have occurred.
Unfortunately, most effective security measures follow extensive losses. But as we all know, before an incident happens is the time to be proactive.
To start, ask yourself some questions:
- What are your separation procedures and how quickly are they implemented once an employee or student is asked to leave?
- How can a locked vestibule at the main entrance, or visitor management software, discourage or even prevent this kind of incident?
- What is the role of local law enforcement during and after separation procedures?
- For how long must the person who has been asked to leave stay away from campus (cooling off period)?
- Under what circumstances or arrangements will they be permitted to return?
- What are your short- and long-term recovery plans should an incident like this occur at your facility?
Answering these questions are the first steps in preventing a tragedy on your campus.