In 2014, the New Jersey School Boards Association issued the final report of the NJSBA School Security Task Force, which was the culmination of a year’s study of the topic of school safety and security.
The task force included 15 local school board members and Association staff members, and the group received input from representatives of law enforcement, security, architecture and higher education, as well as state officials who oversee school security.
The report, “What Makes Schools Safe,” included 45 recommendations and served as a resource for local school districts, for state officials, and for education leaders throughout New Jersey.
The reach of this report was gratifying.
We heard of praise for the report from the New Jersey School Security Task Force, which was appointed by then-Gov. Chris Christie and issued its own report in July 2015. One of the legislative recommendations in the report — the creation of a new cost-effective class of school security officers (Class III special law enforcement officers) — was realized when a new law became effective June 1, 2017. And most notably, I have had several local board members tell me about measures their districts have taken that are described in the report’s recommendations.
Fast forward to 2018. It has now been four years since the original report was issued, and regrettably there have been more incidents of deadly violence in America’s schools. Your Association’s officers and executive director felt it was time to take a fresh look at recent developments in school security and, where needed, update the findings and recommendations of the 2014 report and make additional recommendations.
I am happy to report that the group is hard at work. We have had presentations and discussions on topics such as school security trends, new and enhanced physical security measures, security personnel, social media, cybersecurity, active shooter response, code issues and drills, school climate and communications. We’ve heard from a diverse group of experts who have provided us with essential information that will help to make our updates extremely pertinent to all readers.
All organizations must pursue a course of continuous improvement. We know that local school boards, working with their superintendents and staff, are engaged in constant efforts to bolster school security. We look forward to providing local school boards and the entire New Jersey education community with the latest updates in research and recommendations. I know that board members look forward to learning more about what they can do to help keep students and staff safe.