School Safety and Preparedness – Comprehensive Strategic Plan

 

School Safety and Preparedness – New Jersey

School safety is an area that needs many attentions especially after the recent security threats and happenings that have left many students dead while others have been left injured. Schools are given the mandate of teaching students while at the same time keeping them safe.  The safety and health of learning of 55 million students in both secondary and elementary schools are in the hands of the respective schools. The various safety concerns, therefore, need a well-prepared school to meet the various threats to security and ensure that the students are secured (Hull, 2011).

Planning for emergencies is thus important since it will enable schools to come up with security and preventive strategies that will help reduce the occurrence of various emergencies or incidences at the schools. Most emergencies lead to various persons in the schools responding and taking various actions to help the situation. The emergency responders in schools usually may provide first aid or call for help from the hospitals and other healthcare providers who may be in the schools. The schools may include other partners who include the government agencies to respond to the emergencies that they may face.

There are various responders in the community who help the schools out and partner with it in ensuring safety in the schools. Some of the responders from the community include local security agencies, health care personnel, and fire officials among many others. Various families to keep their children safe from security threats and other hazards like accidents, diseases and natural disasters like floods give the schools. A strategic and collaborative plan dealing with emergencies that involve various community partners in addition to government agencies will help the school meet it security agenda in keeping the children safe.

Planning security procedures with the inclusion of various stakeholders is important in that it ensures that each of the stakeholders has a certain position in the safety and emergencies should there be security threats in the school. The leadership of the school should be greatly involved in the security of the school to provide a haven for the students. The inclusion of the leadership in such security matters ensures that what needs to be done is done without question and without having to pass through many communication channels to reach the leadership of the schools at the county level. Therefore, plans are done at the district level and passed on to various schools in the district. Therefore, the higher officials at the schools and the district level can come together and strategize on various safety and security measures to be carried out in their schools.

The planning process helps the authorities that deal with secondary and elementary school children to prepare a comprehensive plan to deal with safety at the school.  The plan aims to give the school community functional needs and access. The school community encompasses physically challenged individuals, children and those who hail from various races, religions, and those who have a diverse ethnic background.  Settings are considered in planning since students usually go on trips, sporting events where the school should cater for their security.

Homeland security is central to ensuring that the various security agencies coordinate together to come up with a plan to safeguard the city’s schools. Most of the agencies will be given jobs to perform that fit their specialty, and information will be discussed between them to ensure that there are no collisions between them. The plan will follow the procedure of identifying the people who will help in the safeguarding of school security and will include the homeland security with the community development partners (Hocevar et al., 2006).

In the state of New Jersey, the schools should come together under the district authorities to plan and deliberate on increasing their security. The various partners about school safety in the country will include homeland security, schools development authority, governor appointee, Governor Appointee 2, New Jersey’s supervisors and principal’s association representative, representatives of the association of school boards and representatives from the Senate in New Jersey.

Definition of terms

  • Interagency – activities that take place between agencies of different natures like the security and fire departments or different security agencies.
  • Partners – several agencies and community-related agencies that work together to come up with a solution to a certain problem in this case school safety.
  • Collaborative relationship – are relationships forged by different bodies that include government agencies, schools, educational authorities at the district level with an agenda to ensure school safety.
  • Coordination – it involves the act of leading an operation that involves various strategic partners in meeting a certain goal.
  • Team building – involves the activities that bring together various agencies or people to work in harmony towards meeting a certain goal.

Objectives

The objectives of the strategic plan are as follows

  1. To plan on how to deal with the various threats and hazards and come up with various measures that will help in dealing with the security threats. Therefore various actions are formulated that will help in dealing with any threats should they occur, or when they are occurring or after they occur.
  2. To engage the various partners that are concerned with the security of schools at the both the national and district and come up with concrete strategies that will help them schools deal with the problems at hand.
  3. To find out the various security threats and hazards in the schools and come up with emergency measures that will help mitigate the effects of the security threats in case they happen.

Some of the stakeholders will include homeland security in New Jersey, New Jersey school boards association, Ebola state working group, school security task force, New Jersey domestic security preparedness Taskforce, New Jersey state police, every school district in New Jersey, public health officials and emergency management (Haimes et al., 2008).

New Jersey Homeland Security Department

The New Jersey homeland security department deals with security issues affecting all the people in the states of New Jersey and schools are part of its jurisdictions in maintaining security. Since homeland, security has various that help in dealing with various security threats it brings on board labor and officers that are trained to detect the various security threats and to stop them when they are happening. In collaborating with other players in the community, it will be able to conduct operations more easily since the community will be involved. Some of the challenges will include the agreement between the various partners with the homeland security. Their points of contact will be to investigate and prevent attacks on students and staff wherever they occur. Homeland security has a lot of information on various crimes especially on people who may want to carry out attacks on schools especially when dealing with terrorism.

New Jersey School Boards Association

New Jersey school boards association include the various authority watching over the schools in the various districts. The school boards usually come up with the necessary tools and practices that help in dealing with insecurity or preparedness of security threats in New Jersey schools. Some of the suggestions that the school boards has come up with are security officers at schools, bullet proofing windows, vestibule changes, alert systems, surveillance cameras and door locks to classrooms in the schools. Finance has been the major hurdle for the security task force formed by the schools board association.  Their points of contacts are in dealing with the various problems in schools that may cause security vulnerabilities. Collaborating with other agencies will mean that they will have to make decisions collectively, and thus they should work in agreement to prevent lengthy decision because of a lot of disagreement. 

Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force

The domestic security preparedness task force in New Jersey is an important stakeholder in dealing with counter-terrorism and preparing the state and in this particular case, the schools to be ready for any eventuality since terrorism may take place abruptly (Caruson et al., 2005). Its control by the cabinet and help in setting domestic preparedness and homeland security policies that are used to enhance safety and security in the schools and the people of the state as a whole. In collaborating with others, it will bring on board valuable information on legislation and what is required to deal with terrorism and other security threats in schools. The challenges it may face are a large number of partners involved in the security force.  The points of contacts for DSPTF are in dealing with terrorism activities and helping the homeland security to by enacting policies to increase the efficiency of homeland security.

Ebola State Working Group

Ebola has been a health risk affecting many countries throughout the world. Ebola in schools could present a national disaster since the disease would spread quickly and further dampen the efforts of public health officials should such an outbreak occur. Therefore, for the children to be safe from such a disease, it is important that the Ebola working group was coming in to help the school community understand Ebola and train them on how to prevent it. The points of contacts will be the staff and students. The challenges will be the decline of Ebola, which is no longer a national threat though outbreaks are still being reported in Africa. The schools should thus be prepared to ensure the safety of their students and their health. In collaborating with others, it will have to follow the plans laid down by other partners some of which may prevent it from working effectively at the community level.

Schools Security Task Force

Schools need security personnel who will provide security for the student at staff during the day or at night. The task force will help deal with the various threats and help the staff to notice suspicious behavior, especially that involving students or outsiders. The security officers will benefit greatly from the schools regarding putting their training into practice and remuneration. Some of the challenges are the high number of students that the security personnel will watch over. Lack of enough equipment especially arms may inhibit their work should an attack occur that involves firearms and other weapons.

State police

The state police are integral and crucial in part in any security plan or venture for the peoples of the state. Some state police officers are usually attached to schools to help boost safety and deal with any illegal activities in the school. The state police are instrumental in ensuring safety since they are trained to do so. The challenges involve working in an environment they are not used to since they are dealing with students who need to be treated with caution. In collaborating with others, they may take the role of enforcement and may have to follow the laid down procedures though they might have carried out safety in schools effectively due to their training.

New Jersey Department of Education

The education department is tasked with coming with various solutions to the security problem in schools and does this through the Department’s Office of School, Preparedness, and Emergency Planning (OSPEP) about the welfare, safety, and health of the students. The department ensures that the school sin New Jersey are in a better position to deal with security crises should they occur. The department benefits greatly if the security in schools is ensured and all threats are thwarted. The challenges it faces are the increasing terrorist activities that may eventually target schools and the increase in shooting carried out by students especially on campuses (Borum et al., 2010).

Public Health Officials

Public health officials are an important part of the county’s approach towards dealing with insecurity and the aftermath. The health officials usually ensure that the children in the state are safe from various health hazards. Health officials help in directing help to the schools should a security threat leave them injured and in need of medical attention. Public health officials in collaborating with other community partners and state agencies can increase the scope of their work to the field and not just in the hospitals. Public health officials in partnerships can only deal with health while the rest of the security issues are dealt with the relevant partners. Public health officials benefit when they have less work to do due to fewer injuries because the staff and students have followed the laid down procedures in dealing with security threats.

Emergency Management

Emergency management agencies are an important part of a school’s security. Emergency management prepares the schools for anything associated with security risks. Training and drills are carried out to train the staff and students on how to respond to security threats should they occur. They can be educated on responding to terrorist activities by not panicking but gathering in the designated places without much noise to alert the terrorists who may seek to kill them. The benefits of emergency management are that it helps a school to be well prepared for any security threats and the aftermath of such events (Perry & Lindell, 2003). In collaborating with others, they can advise on how to deal with preparedness and emergencies but have to hear from the various decisions made by the others and follow them. Emergency management benefits when there are fewer emergencies and when schools are more prepared and act according to the training given them.

Methods to Promote Collaboration

Since there are many players involved in, managing school safety at the district level it is important for there to be a plan for coordinating all the players to come together. From collaboration to work well with the several inner agencies and other partners, more opportunities for training and increased focus the strategic planning in the workforce should ensure more participation of collaboration among the various agencies (Gajda, 2004). The various inefficiencies in the workforce can only be addressed by development and training. Such training and education seminars will help the senior leaders see the important of collaborating with other agencies in coming up with solutions to help them foster security in schools. Therefore, the two programs, in this case, are strategic workforce, training, and development.

The collaboration between agencies can further be improved and facilitates realistic expectation, definite rules, and decision-making ventures are adopted.  The different agencies can increase collaboration by sharing ideas, examining joint goals, approaches or plans done by the various agencies do not conflict with others and thus threaten their collaborative efforts. It is, therefore, important to use the various partner’s contribution in increasing their collaboration especially on their different contributions on dealing with innovations and interventions.

The increase of collaborative efforts can happen among workers. The various partnering agencies and other associated and interested parties consist of workers who are to work together to meet the various goals set to achieve school safety. The common ground between the agencies will foster more collaboration as they will not see each other as different and at higher levels but as partners in working towards achieving a common goal, which is school safety. Common ground helps in maintaining and facilitating the working relationships among workers. The department of education in New Jersey provides a crucial leadership role in bringing together all the partners and working with them to achieve school safety in New Jersey. The department of education will, therefore, bring on board all the partners to work on how to protect the various schools and universities in New Jersey.

The plan in conjunction with other partners will take into consideration the various innocent targets who are usually the staff and students. The vulnerability assessment will be carried out to determine the extent of the problem. The staff and students will be trained to deal with the various dangerous situations that may occur at their schools. The school boards will help facilitate that such training is done in all schools. The seminar will be held to education those outside the school especially parents, the fire department, community members, leaders, and the police. This will increase collaborative effort and the involvement of the community in detecting various threats towards schools (Perry & Lindell, 2008).

Personnel at the school will undergo training to develop further their professional skills in handling security matters, especially when dealing with students and staff. The school boards in every district will train the officers according to the requirements of the schools in those districts. Having a developed security personnel will ensure that any security threats are dealt with promptly and without any delay.

Conclusion

It is crucial to come up with quick solutions to help boost security in schools and thus enhance the security of students while they are in school.  The department of education should consider school safety thoroughly as the recent shootings in the school cause the public to lose trust in the security agencies that need to deal with the matter. Therefore, collaboration should be enhanced to create a strategy that will make students and staff safe.

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