National Security and School Safety

What you need to know!

The Bottom Line

As a leader you will create, communicate, and implement defensible systems, policies, and processes based on factual circumstances to keep your school safe!

National Security Safety Center (NSSC) 1984

What is your job regarding protecting our nation's security within your school or district?

  1. “In the school’s mission statement, identify the context for which the school wishes academic learning to take place, using phrases like “to learn in a safe and secure environment.”

  2. “Identify a specific procedure for evaluating and responding to threats.”

  3. “Identify the potential disasters that could occur based on the school’s setting and climate.”

  4. “Control campus access.”

  5. Identify specifically assigned roles and responsibilities.”

  6. “Identify whom to call in a crisis.”

  7. “Provide cultural awareness and sensitivity training for all members of the school community.”

  8. “Establish an emergency operation communication system.”

  9. “Implement a uniform school crime reporting and record-keeping system.”

(For further information, see Essex, 2012, p. 103-105.)

Nuts and Bolts

The US Patriot Act was implemented on October 26, 2001. Its highest priority is to protect Americans and the values cherished by Americans and highlights:

  • public schools fall under its jurisdiction,

  • school and national safety requirements, and

  • school and district drug free and zero tolerance policies.

The No Child Left Behind Act includes

  • school safety requirements, and

  • the necessity for school emergency response teams and plans.


Gangs, School Violence, and Drug Use

  • Have a school or district policy!
  • Communicate the policy.
  • Follow through with the policy.
  • Respond to and report threats.
  • If reasonable suspicion arises, exercise caution, establish the basis, document your actions, and follow the policy (Essex, 2012, p. 119).

Students are afforded constitutional rights: “freedom of expression, rights to a degree of privacy, protection against cruel and abusive treatment, and equality of treatment.” (Essex, 2012, p. 111).

  • School leaders may "demonstrate that they had a legitimate need to restrict their rights”, and the burden of proof lies with the school or district officials (Essex, 2012, p. 111).

Zero Tolerance - This is a biggie!

Zero Tolerance: we are citing page 124 from School Law and the Public Schools: A Practical Guide for Educaitonal Leaders (Esses, 2012).

What do you need to consider?

  • Do not use zero tolerance solely to rid the school of disruptive students.
  • Involve teachers, parents, community leaders, and student representatives, in the formulation of zero tolerance policies.
  • Draft policies with recognition that students possess constitutional rights
  • Do not move too swiftly with the assumption that zero tolerance is a cure all for student mis-conduct
  • When it becomes necessary to expel students for an extended period of time, seek alternative educational opportunities.
  • Consider the student's history of behavior in school, the seriousness of the offense, and the immediate need to act before determining punishment.
  • Make certain that the student's substantive and procedural process rights are addressed in all disciplinary matters.

Case Studies . . . What do you think?