Police Officers Don’t Make Schools Safer? The Debate Escalates

In response to the “excessive force” incident in a San Antonio school this week, the Texas ACLU has called for the removal of police officers from schools, saying “Police officers don't make schools safer, and they should be removed from schools altogether."   They went on to call on the San Antonio Independent School District to “take a look at their policies, practices and culture of policing,” an activity that all school districts should undertake.

While we continue to be shocked and at times horrified, by the videos that emerge from police-related incidents in schools, our response needs to be measured and strategic. No one wants to see 12 year olds body slammed into the ground, but we are equally distraught at the physical violence that can occur without an adequate supervisory presence. We have to acknowledge that sometimes, there are crisis events that occur in a school that absolutely require a police presence. Conversely, it is clear that a law enforcement approach is almost never the best response to a school disciplinary issue.

At the risk of sounding like a voice of reason amid the shouting, perhaps a more moderate, but less convenient, approach needs to be introduced:

  • Provide appropriate, education-based training for school staff in de-escalation, supervision, and crisis response, AND demand that teachers consistently use it in all situations, such that schools can apply educationally sound responses to disciplinary issues.

  • Provide appropriate, education-based training to school-based law enforcement officers in de-escalation and how to appropriately apply law enforcement techniques in an educational setting AND demand that they consistently use it, such that police officers can apply educationally sound law enforcement responses as needed if a criminal issue occurs in a school.

http://www.crossroadstoday.com/story/31671205/aclu-comment-on-san-antonio-police-officer-throwing-12-year-old-child-to-ground

Verbally Aggressive Becomes Excessively Forceful?

Today brings yet another video of a school police officer using significant physical force with a student. There are two sides to the dilemma of a law enforcement official putting hands on a kid. In some instances, the situation is no longer an educational event, but rather a criminal event, and the person being physically subdued is a perpetrator of a crime. Conversely, in other instances the person being man-handled is a student who is involved in a disciplinary problem, not a crime, yet they are dealt with in a criminal, not educational fashion.

In the latest video from a San Antonio school, a 12 year girl who was involved in a “verbally aggressive” altercation with another student is shown being body slammed to the ground. While we must not rush to judgement on the specifics of these types of cases, let’s keep in mind that we are talking about a 12 year old student, not an adult criminal, who was involved in an argument with words, however contentious, not fists.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation launched by the district, these sort of videos remind us that simply putting law enforcement into schools does not solve every problem. Often districts opt for the quick fix of paying for a single resource officer, rather than investing in appropriate education-based training for all their staff members. While there may be a need for law enforcement intervention in some cases, school staff members trained in de-escalation, violence prevention, and mediation who are empowered and invested in establishing a safe and supportive school climate are a much better return on a district’s investment.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/video-shows-san-antonio-school-officer-body-slamming-girl/

Stuff Versus People?

After a school shooting occurred in their district last week, school leaders in Madison Local Schools are reacting with new “safety measures”. These include:

·       Purchasing two security wands to check students as they enter the building

·       Hiring another school resource officer

·       Training selected staff members to carry firearms.

·       Adding metal blinds to classrooms doors.

·       Participating in Ohio’s free tip line program

These law enforcement-based improvements are in response to a shooting that occurred in the school’s cafeteria that injured four students. While we are always glad to see schools taking action to improve safety, let’s raise a troublesome question – is any money, time, or resources being allocated to training the staff and students? Will everyone at Madison Local Schools be any better trained or empowered to respond as a result of these expenditures? For a fraction of the price of these security-based measures, teachers and students could be trained and empowered to not only respond but also prevent a variety of crisis events – not just a shooting.

While buying “stuff”, hiring more cops, or adding more guns to the school environment may feel good in the short term, is it really addressing the problem? Why not invest in a comprehensive, long term solution – training and empowering all school stakeholders. Let's hope that the district will make this sound investment as well.

We're #1!!!!!!!! - but we don't want to be...

Usually being number one or leading the nation is a position you want to be in. Unfortunately when it comes to bomb threats in schools, Ohio has the unenviable distinction of being number one in the nation. In the last 40 school days , Ohio schools have experienced more than 37 bomb threats - more than any other state in the US.


But we're not alone. The incredible increase in school bomb threats or actual bomb-related incidents has been felt across the US, particularly in the Midwest and east coast. It's not just threats though - in the same 40 school days, potential bomb making materials were confiscated from six different students in two separate incidents.

So the logical question is - what are we doing about it? A review of bomb threat management training and resources for schools reveals that administrators, in Ohio and elsewhere, are being forced to do the best they can with frequently outdated and often dangerously antiquated response procedures - if they have anything in place at all.


In response to this critical need, the Educators School Safety Network is currently offering bomb threat management courses taught BY educators, FOR educators. While law enforcement input and support is crucial, school administrators must receive training to develop their capacity to respond appropriately to bomb threats and bomb incidents in their school. For more information on this timely course, please go to www.eSchoolSafety.org.

map.png


Bomb threats and bomb incidents in 2015 are very different from the "good old days" of pranks and protests. Today's world is a dangerous place and schools are not exempt from this threat. The "oh it's just a bomb threat hoax" perspective is irresponsible and dangerous thinking. Come on Ohio, let's be #1 in preparedness.

Kid or Criminal?

Another school resource officer was fired today for using what was considered excess force when interacting with a student. As a society, we watch these incidents with outrage (“Nobody better ever do that to my kid!”). As educators we watch with a mixture of indignation (“Come on – I have to deal with these same kids every day without putting hands on them!), resignation (“Come on kid – what did you think was going to happen if you kept being defiant?”), and maybe a tiny twinge of empathy (“What do I do when a kid becomes violent with me?”).

The larger concern is whether we are witnessing educational or criminal issues in these videos? Is the perpetrator of these actions a student or a criminal? And at what point do we move from an educational event to a criminal event that warrants the use of force? These are subtle distinctions that hinge on decisions and resulting actions made in the heat of the moment by troubled students and law enforcement, not education, professionals.

If we are going to run a prison within the walls of the school, then we need to continue to spend time, money, and training on security systems, cameras, metal detectors, guards, and a law enforcement-based presence. If instead we are interested in having an educational system within our school walls, then we need to shift the focus. We need to work on climate and culture issues, building relationships, implementing effective violence prevention practices, and empowering all school stakeholders to have a role in keeping the school safe.

School resource officers need education-based training. They need to acquire an understanding of the unique challenges facing students and teachers and develop a specific skill set to deal with them. We would never send a teacher into the criminal justice system to deal with offenders using the same techniques and capacities used in teaching middle schoolers, yet we are placing law enforcement officers into an educational setting to deal with students (not criminals) without adequate education-based training and dispositions.

Denver Post article covering Colorado School Safety Summit

"We tell our kids to get under a desk, be quiet and cross their fingers when we should be training the kids on things like evacuating and barricading," said Amanda Klinger of the nonprofit Educator's School Safety Network.

"There could be a wall of windows in the back of the classroom, and a teacher is instructed to make her kids lie down when they could be evacuating out the windows," Dr. Amy Klinger said. "A teacher shouldn't get in trouble for helping his or her students survive."

 

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29073564/experts-say-rethink-school-safety-plans-stress-student

Oregon Gets It!

Finally – someone gets it! The Oregon State Police Task Force on School Safety recommended the implementation of a statewide threat assessment system in all public schools. This recommendation will be one of two top priorities for the legislation come February.

In June of 2013, FEMA and Department of Education called Threat Assessment Management “one of the most useful tools a school can develop…”. Two and a half years later, very few schools have this critical tool that allows us to identify, assess, and manage individuals who are risk for violence against themselves or others.

Keep in mind that while school shootings are driving this scenario, threat assessment provides appropriate support and interventions for a variety of potentially dangerous behaviors from self-harm to risk taking behaviors to shootings. It’s a tool that allows us to effectively prevent events before they occur, rather than just picking up the pieces afterwards. Even better – it’s cost effective and sustainable.

Let’s hope that come February, Oregon builds upon the successful threat assessment team model already in place in some districts. Their schools will be a great deal safer as a result. Now – when will the rest of the states get clued in?

When in the world are we going to provide training to teachers that is education-based?

Really reluctant kudos to the Eagan Police Department in Minnesota for hosting a “Teacher’s Academy”, where classroom teachers participated in simulations that replicated a tactical response to an active  shooter in school – from the perspective of the police officer. Teachers used plastic guns to respond like police officers to a virtual school shooting. Other activities included a brief jolt from a Taser, all in the hopes of giving teachers “perspective on policing techniques”.  Let’s look at a few of the take aways here:

  • Let’s educate the educators first: While any school safety training may be helpful, when in the world are we going to provide training to teachers that is education-based? How about giving teachers an educator’s perspective on what they can do in a school shooting? Do the teachers who now have a “policeman’s perspective” have any idea what they are supposed to do as educators in an active shooter or other crisis event?
  • Turnabout is fair play: We already have an overwhelming law enforcement perspective on school violence. It’s good to know what law enforcement faces when they respond, but how about giving law enforcement some education-based training to give them some “perspective” on what teachers are dealing with?
  • Shame on us: While I certainly can think of more effective training models for teachers, at least the Eagan Police Department is willing to spend time and resources on training teachers. Can schools say the same?

Can we all agree that we need to train teachers on what to do in a crisis before we spend time and money giving teachers a law enforcement perspective on school violence?

Bomb Threats By the Numbers

It might seem like there have been a lot of bomb threats in schools lately – that’s because there has…

Let’s look at the stats for JUST TODAY – October 20, 2015 – as of 10:30 p.m. EST….

  • 20 different schools in 9 different states were threatened with a bomb today

  • 14 of these were elementary schools (70%), 1 middle school and 5 high schools

  • 9 of the 19 threats – 45% - were in Ohio.

October 19 was a slow day by comparison – only 8 bomb threats, of which 25% were in Ohio.

There certainly are a number of questions we could raise about this alarming trend, but let’s just ask one directly to our educators – when was the last time you had any training in preventing or responding to bomb threat incidents? The silence is deafening….

School safety grants!!! Yay?

Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced on Wednesday that he will not cut the state’s school safety grant program, but instead will add an additional $3.5 million to it. Sounds great right? Finally we’re  allocating money to keep schools safe right? Let’s take a closer look….

The Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Program takes applications from school entities and awards grant funds of up to $50,000 per year, but the funds must be used for security assessments, purchasing security equipment, or employing school resource officers. Not one word – or one dime – for training the people who will be actually responding to crisis events – the educators. 

Am I glad to see money allocated toward school safety? Yes. Do I think that School Resource Officers are a valuable tool in keeping schools safe? Yes, sort of… But how about let’s spend it where we can do the most good, by training every educator and student, not just employing a single officer.

For $50,000 most, if not all, school districts could train literally every staff member, student, and parent in  comprehensive, all hazards crisis response and develop capacities and skills that they will carry with them for the foreseeable future – or you could hire a resource officer for maybe a school year. Oh, and what about those schools who aren’t fortunate enough to get a piece of the Indiana safety grant pie? I guess they are on their own…

http://www.securitysales.com/article/indiana_governor_reverses_cut_on_school_safety_spending_awards_additional_3/news

Did you ever notice...

Did you ever notice that when an education problem needs to be solved, non-educators are hard at work deciding what is “best for us”?

Except in this case, they are probably right. In the waning flurry of stories on the school shooting in Oregon, we are finally getting around to some discussion of what FEMA and the Department of Education call “the most useful tool a school can develop” – threat assessment management – which is rarely ever done in schools. A recent article in Mother Jones gives us an inadvertent glimpse into one of the reasons why.

The article examines the process and advantages of threat assessment, but what is conspicuous by its absence is the lack of any involvement, interviews, or discussion of educators in this article that deals with school shooters and other mass murderers. Threat assessment is discussed as a means by which “law enforcement and mental health professionals” can prevent violence. Really? Don’t you need me as an educator to notice and report behaviors of concern or are law enforcement and mental health professionals going to observe every kid in every class in every school?

This omission is endemic of a mentality, unintentional or otherwise, that preventing and responding to school violence is something that the “grown ups” will discuss while patting educators on the head and sending us off to the kids' table while they decide what to do. Let me be clear, this isn’t a knock on law enforcement or mental health professionals alone, we as educators have abdicated our authority and been ok with being denied a seat at the school safety table. Yet it is educators and our students who are being damaged, injured, killed, and criticized when violence occurs.

As educators we need to advocate – and yes demand – an educational perspective on school violence and school safety.

Media coverage, political discussion, policy making, crisis planning and response decisions should all prominently feature educators’ voices.

After all, we are the ones who are living, and dying, with school violence.

Dodging a bullet...

Last Friday we had a “non-traditional” but equally dangerous school shooting incident. In this case an outside individual came into a California school and shot and killed her mother (a staff member) before killing herself. In a press conference Monday night, school and law enforcement officials defended the decision to allow the intruder into the school, despite a protection order that prohibited her from coming within 500 yards of the school. “She was known to staff as the victim’s daughter, there was no reason not to allow her…” said an Upland police lieutenant. No reason except the protection order maybe?

The lesson here is that not all threats to a school come from the inside. There have been numerous incidents in schools where violence has come from community or personal issues that spilled over into the unsuspecting school environment. While we need to be exponentially more attentive to potential threats from within the school, this tragic event illustrates the need to diligently screen visitors and be aware of potential threats associated with our students and staff.

Perhaps the larger lesson is that despite literally dodging a bullet, it doesn’t appear that the school is making any immediate improvements that will help – like perhaps providing adequate training for the staff and students. Instead they are working on lighting, security cameras, and “other minor safety improvements”. Once again investing in “stuff”, not “staff”.

While in this case no students or other staff were caught in the deadly drama that unfolded in the cafeteria kitchen, the scenario could have ended very differently. Let’s not leave the safety of our school up to luck – let’s use the tools of vigilance, awareness, and training.

http://www.dailybulletin.com/general-news/20151012/pepper-tree-parents-raise-safety-questions-amid-shooting

Another school shooting- Are we learning anything?

It is with a tragic sense of déjà vu that we write yet another blog post after a horrific shooting in an American school, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Just as tragic is the fact that despite incredible media coverage, political maneuverings, Department of Justice grants, and the deaths of literally hundreds of students, not a whole lot has changed in regards to school crisis response in the last 5 years.

Most schools are still following outdated procedures:

In June of 2013, FEMA and the Department of Education came out with very specific active shooter recommendations for schools – “Run, Hide, Fight”. These recommendations clearly state “The first course of action that should be taken is to run out of the building…” to a safe location. Yet multiple student witnesses to today’s event recount that instructors told them to lock the doors and stay in the classrooms. One student told CNN "We locked the doors, turned off the lights, and we were all pretty much in panic mode. We called 911 and called our parents, our loved ones ... “ Even after hearing gunshots, a student told Fox News, “One of the students in my class, she went out and checked it. She got shot twice, one in the arm, and in the stomach. And she came back and told us to lock the door, shut the lights off. And we sat there for 20 minutes waiting for police to show up."

How well have these recommendations been disseminated to schools? How much training has occurred? Do students or teachers really know what to do to save their own lives?

We still believe that there’s nothing we can do:

In a joint statement, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees called the shootings a "tragedy" saying "while campus safety is of the utmost priority, due to their open nature, college and university campuses are susceptible to these types of events...". That may indeed be true, but there are a myriad of things we can do to minimize, mitigate, and even prevent these events from taking place. Threat assessment management is a proven best-practice and according to FEMA and the Department of Education “One of the most useful tools a school can develop…” yet multi-disciplinary threat assessment teams are present in only a small percentage of schools nationwide. Instead organizations are spending money on security measures such as buzzers, metal detectors, and duress alarms rather than on training staff to identify, assess, and manage individuals who may pose a risk of violence.

We still think this is a law enforcement problem:

In today’s event police response time, while rapid, still has upwards of 7 minutes by some reports. Past incidents have shown us that despite rapid law enforcement intervention, most shootings were stopped by some other means. 57% of the time the event is over before police even arrived. Yet as educators we have abdicated the problem of school violence to law enforcement – even though it's educators who are in reality the ones dealing with, responding to, and dying in the event. Even what little training educators do receive in crisis response comes from an entirely law enforcement perspective. Media coverage of these events always features “experts” who are security, military, or law enforcement - not educators who must deal with violence on a daily basis.

We still want to make it all about guns…

Within hours of this most recent tragedy, President Obama was responding to the event by criticizing the lack of tougher gun laws.  At the same time, gun rights activists were asserting that a concealed carry permit holder could have prevented the shooting.The default position of the media, politicians, and advocates is to immediately cling to one side or the other in the gun debate. Gun rights and gun control be damned – this conversation should be about keeping students safe.

Making our schools safer is possible – but it’s hard work. It’s work that incorporates non-partisan, collaborative, common sense, objective discussions about mental health services, increasing student disclosures, providing training to staff, students, and parents, appropriately increasing security measures, making facility changes, revising policies and procedures, implementing threat assessment management, and yes eventually – about guns. It’s too bad that the opposing sides of the gun argument couldn’t take a minute away from advocacy and look at the common ground on which we all stand – no one wants to see kids dying at school.

North Carolina Teens charged with sex crimes for possesing explicit images of their own bodies

Yes, you read that correctly. Two teens in North Carolina were prosecuted for having nude pictures of themselves, on their own phones.

They were charged with separate crimes for:

  • taking sexually explicit photos of a minor 
  • possessing sexually explicit photos of a minor 

In addition, the boy faced a separate charge for possessing a naked photo his girlfriend, had sent to him.

Part of the reason this unconscionable situation occurred is because in North Carolina, a child over the age of 16 may be prosecuted as an adult for certain crimes, yet the child is still under 18, and therefore the images of their own bodies on their own phones were still explicit images of minors under the letter of the law.

We need to do a better job of talking to teens and youth about the potential consequences of sending sexually explicit images of their own bodies, but this draconian measure isn't the way to accomplish that.

 

The 'teachable moment' of Ahmed's clock: what we need to do about bomb threat protocol in schools

A lot has been written last week about Ahmed and his clock “bomb”. While relevant points and needed discussion has been engendered about racial and ethnic bias, zero tolerance, over-reacting schools etc., perhaps a critical point has been lost in the shuffle – the deplorable state of most schools’ bomb threat policies and procedures.

We talked last week about how schools need to be equipped with training and tools in order to determine what student behaviors actually pose a “real” threat, but put that issue aside for a moment.

Here, it didn’t matter whether Ahmed’s clock posed a “real threat” -by involving law enforcement, it was treated as one by the school. Yet despite this fact that, and that teachers were purportedly “concerned” about the clock (i.e. telling him not to show anyone else, confiscating it, etc.) and its potential to be a “bomb”, it does not appear that any formalized protocol was used.

  • Who exactly in that school was trained to determine if the item was a bomb? (No one- and the bomb squad was never involved)

  • Did evacuation of the area near the supposed “bomb” take place? (No)

  • Was law enforcement involved in determining the validity of the supposed “bomb threat” or were they just around to charge Ahmed later at the schools request? (Law enforcement never involved the bomb squad or enacted bomb threat protocols)

In all the second guessing and critiques of the school’s potentially biased response, is anyone concerned about whether or not this organization (and schools just like it across the country) has the capability to respond appropriately to a legitimate bomb threat – or to an actual explosive device?

Most if not all bomb threat protocols in use in schools (if they even have one) are predicated on how to respond to a “threat”, not how to respond if an actual bomb is in play. It’s very similar to how our fire evacuation protocols are really just procedures for leaving the building during a drill instead of considering how we would exit in a real fire, with smoke everywhere, blocked exits etc.

A close look at Columbine, a pivotal school violence event, shows us that if the perpetrators had been better bomb makers, it would have been a catastrophic bomb event, not a school shooting. Since then, we have spent a lot of time and effort discussing and practicing for a school shooter, while completely ignoring the greater peril – a mass casualty incident resulting from an explosive device that can be built using items from the local hardware store with directions from the internet.

Many safety experts believe, and rightly so, that the next “Sandy Hook” event will be a bombing event – and schools are not even remotely prepared. Let’s use the spotlight of the mishandling of Ahmed’s case as a catalyst to a greater good – evaluating, updating, or in some cases, implementing effective bomb threat response protocols. 

#IStandWithAhmed and what we can do about it.

It's great that "#IStandWithAhmed" is going viral , but there is a reason schools keep making poor decisions about student “threats” that end up on the news, in court, or going viral (see also: kid with ‘magic’ ring, kid with pop-tart ‘gun’, kid with finger ‘guns’ etc etc).

Few if any K-12 schools have been trained in the effective and evidence-based method of identifying, assessing, and managing student threats. When schools utilize threat assessment management teams, they are able to quickly gather facts and indicators to determine: “Is there real danger here?” “Do we need to involve law enforcement?” “What do we need to do to keep kids safe?”.

In Ahmed's case, that should have been a "no", "no", and "nothing".

Schools today face a difficult barrage of angsty Facbook posts (is that a threat?) off-hand comments (is that a threat?) Snapchat "jokes" about planning school shootings (is that a threat?) and just kids being kids. Somewhere in the dizzying array are the very rare, yet very real, instances of actual school shooters.

When schools have a formalized, efficient means to analyze, assess, (and if necessary manage with appropriate supports and interventions) students who might be at risk for violence against themselves or others, they can more readily determine that students like Ahmed, or the student wielding the “one ring to rule them all”, don’t actually pose a danger. Educators can quickly pull together the knowledge that is out there to determine if a student is really, truly a threat.

To be clear, Threat Assessment Management isn’t a magical cure-all to prevent violence in our schools. The shooter at Arapahoe High School seemingly was “screened” by a rudimentary process resembling threat assessment, and the educators there made the difficult, and ultimately incorrect judgement call that he was not a danger to others.

However, a 15 minute meeting of a Threat Assessment Management team in Ahmed’s case should have quickly resulted in an internal investigation and the finding of facts clearly showing that the “threat” posed by Ahmed and his clock was no threat at all.

Conversely, had a Threat Assessment team convened to discuss the shooter at Sandy Hook’s 5th grade writing, “The Big Book of Granny” (about a grandma who shoots kids using her gun-cane and taxidermies them) they would have looked at ALL the facts and circumstances in his life, and noted that he was already engaging in behaviors that caused concern. (We know from the Safe School Initiative Study  that 87% of school shooters engaged in behaviors, prior to the event that caused concern.)

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Threat Assessment Management is “one of the most useful tools” schools can use to keep ALL kids safe at school. Does your school or district have a trained Threat Assessment team? Probably not. If you #StandWithAhmed , click the button below for more information about how YOUR school can implement Threat Assessment Management.

The Educator’s School Safety Network is a national, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides school safety training, resources, and technical assistance to schools and universities throughout the US and Canada.


A $15,000 sensor might tell schools where the shooter is, but does nothing to prevent or respond


A California High School is spending $15,000 on sensor that will detect when shots have been fired in the school. For half that expenditure we could train every staff member, student, and parent in a variety of crisis response techniques that will prevent violence, help them to survive a violent event, and prepare them for much more likely crisis events. 
If a school has that kind of money they should spend it on empowering their people, not purchasing a sensor that tells you the *&&^ is hitting the fan!

 

Read more
 

The $101,000 Safety Question

While the Chester County Sheriff, a private security firm, and the administration of Chester County Schools are arguing over whether to spend more than $101,000 annually  on sheriff’s deputies or private security guards to protect the children of Chester County, no one seems to be considering the most efficient and effective expenditure of all – putting training in the hands of those who will need it – the teachers and staff.  The district has spent almost $1 million on security measures such as door locking mechanisms and surveillance cameras.

The real million dollar question is whether even a dime has been spent on training school stakeholders on how to effectively use the hardware. For just a fraction of the cost of either of these reactive measures, every staff member, student, and parent could be trained in proactive prevention and response measures such as threat assessment management, lockdown enhancements, visitor engagement, and strategic supervision.  

 

Research as well as past violent events indicates that teachers and students will be the ones who will need to know how to respond to crisis incidents.  While having a law enforcement or security presence in schools is a great supplemental measure, adequate resources of time and money should be allocated first and foremost for the training and empowerment of school stakeholders. The central argument   between the sheriff, the security firm, and the school is what approach will keep students safest. The answer – none of the above- train and empower teachers, students, and parents first.

http://www.heraldonline.com/news/local/education/article19398492.html

Ohio Board of Building Appeals Rules Against Door Locking Devices

Ohio Board of Building Appeals denied a variance request by Southwest Licking School District for a security device that blocks classroom doors during a lockdown event, saying that the device violated state fire codes.

There are numerous door blocking devices on the market, many of which raise questions about whether a district might be trading one problem (preventing an intruder) for another (limiting the capabilities of occupants to evacuate a classroom).  Another equally pressing question also needs to be raised – could the money being spent on buying “stuff” be better spent training staff and students in (no-additional-cost) effective strategies to save their lives in a variety of potential crisis events.

Door blocking devices range from $50 to $500 per door (multiply that number for each classroom door). They are designed for one purpose and one specific event – an active shooter. For a fraction of that price, all school stakeholders could be trained in a variety of FEMA and Department of Education recommended strategies for responding to threats ranging from an active shooter, to a severe weather event, to a medical emergency.

There are legitimate concerns in many schools about the capabilities of classroom doors to be locked from the inside, rather than requiring an occupants to go out into the hallway to key-lock the door. Again, there are low to no-cost strategies to mitigate this problem – and these procedures require training. One of these is a $5  magnet-type mechanism that keeps the door latch from engaging but can be quickly removed when the room needs to be secured.

Perhaps most alarming is the prevailing notion that it will take a piece of hardware to make people feel safe.  One student told newsnet5.com the aftermarket lcoking devices in her classrooms “are like an added peace of mind. It’s like a comfort seeing them because now that they're in place I would hope they would always work the way they needed to.”

Students and staff would have greater peace of mind if they had been empowered, trained, and practiced in evacuation, barricade, and a host of other response procedures that will assist them in saving their own lives, rather than relying on a piece of hardware sitting in a classroom. Let’s spend money on people, not stuff.

http://www.newsnet5.com/news/local-news/oh-lake/school-shooting-defense-device-called-into-question-by-state-building-department