NJSBA’s School Security Committee issued its final report, with 15 recommendations covering emergency response, the use of law enforcement in schools, reunification and post-crisis procedures, building access, communications/notification, and other subjects. Released on October 23 during Workshop 2018, the new report serves as a supplement to the Association’s 2014 study, What Makes Schools Safe?

“The committee concluded that our 2014 report remains a viable and relevant document, with valuable information for school districts,” said Donald Webster, Jr., NJSBA immediate past president who chaired the 2018 project. Webster also served as co-chair for the 2014 study.

Consisting of local school board members, experts in law enforcement and NJSBA staff, the 2018 committee was appointed by President Dan Sinclair and Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod this spring, following the Parkland, Florida school shooting. It was asked to review the 2014 report in light of developments in school security and make updates and additional recommendations as needed.

New Areas of Study The committee considered recent developments, including the “run-hide-fight” approach in active-shooter situations, the creation of the Class III Special Law Enforcement Officer category designed specifically for schools, anonymous tip lines, reunification, and statutes addressing school building design and renovation, visitor access, security drills, and staff training that have been enacted since 2014.

It also looked into two areas not addressed in NJSBA’s 2014 report: cybersecurity, and the use of schools as polling places.

Next Step: Mental Health Services The committee also endorsed NJSBA’s next step in the area of school security: a task force study on the relationship of mental health services and early intervention strategies to student health and wellness, school climate, and school security.

“In Parkland, Newtown and many other tragedies, the school shooters were troubled individuals,” explained Executive Director Feinsod. “These incidents illustrate the importance of the effective delivery of mental health services in our schools and communities.”

The NJSBA Task Force on the Delivery of Mental Health Services began meeting this month and is expected to issue its final report by June 2019.