School Climate & Safety Opinion

Comprehensive Emergency Planning for Public Schools (I): Introduction

April 29, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Yesterday’s “Lead of the Week” was a Request For Information (RFI) issued by the Los Angeles Unified School District for a District-Wide Strategic Security and Safety Plan. With a million students, dispersed in 1200 sites, over 7100 square miles, in a major international city, drugs, gang violence, industrial accidents, armed homicidal/suicidal students, earthquakes and international terrorism are real possibilities. Los Angeles students face multiple threats to life and limb; the district’s reaction has been ad hoc and episodic, resulting in a tangle of policies, systems and activities; and resources are almost certainly being wasted at a time when funds are tight and getting tighter.
This is a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a long time, and this project supplies the perfect opportunity. LAUSD is hardly alone, and in this post-911, post-Katrina, post-Columbine Century, emergency planning for public schools will be a growing business.

More resources will be put into a function that is bound to involve large hardware and software contracts - and a good deal of outsourcing, introducing yet another source of competition for public education funding. Each dollar that goes to emergencies won’t go to the classroom. While the security function in essential, it is equally important that it be done efficiently, and conceptualized so as to be integrated with teaching and learning rather than as add-on “support.”

We can see the beginnings of integration in other areas: The cafeteria is becoming part of schools’ strategy for education nutrition. While sometimes controversial, AIDS and sexual harassment education and in-school clinics are becoming part of health education strategies. Student information systems are being employed to identify student and teacher cheating - to say nothing of performance pay. GPS units that can improve routing and tell repair crews where to locate a broken-down school bus can be used to check up on bus drivers. Which raises the other side of this coin - the implications of potentially all-encompassing information for school operations in a democratic society.

I spent the first half of my professional life at the RAND Corporation as a “young Strangelove” in what amounts to emergency planning and crisis management – the prospect of nuclear war and its aftermath. I have some distinct views on the nature of these activities. They start from the simple proposition that public k-12 schools are very different from any other facility secured by government or private contractors, and that the government’s responsibility to k-12 students is very different from that of any secured facility to the people within.

Marc Dean Millot is the editor of School Improvement Industry Week and K-12 Leads and Youth Service Markets Report. His firm provides independent information and advisory services to business, government and research organizations in public education.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in edbizbuzz are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!

Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Can Districts Legally Mandate Student Vaccines? No, Two New Lawsuits Claim
Two large California districts are being sued over policies requiring vaccinations for schoolchildren by the end of 2021.
5 min read
Diego Cervantes, 16, gets a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena on May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif.
Diego Cervantes, 16, gets a shot of the Pfizer vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena last spring in Pasadena, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center Higher Student Morale Linked to In-Person Instruction, Survey Shows
Educators see student morale rising since last spring, according to a new EdWeek Research Center survey.
4 min read
Second-grade students raise their hands during a math lesson with teacher Carlin Daniels at Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden, Conn., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.
Second grade students raise their hands during a math lesson in Meriden, Conn., Sept. 30.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
School Climate & Safety Law Against 'Disorderly Conduct' in Schools Led to Unfair Student Arrests, Judge Rules
The South Carolina ruling is a model for other states where students are still being arrested for minor incidents, an attorney said.
6 min read
Scales of justice and Gavel on wooden table.
Pattanaphong Khuankaew/iStock
School Climate & Safety A Rise in School Shootings Leads to Renewed Calls for Action
A return to in-person learning means a return to school shootings, advocates warn.
5 min read
Families depart the Mansfield ISD Center For The Performing Arts Center where families were reunited with Timberview High School Students, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Mansfield, Texas. Police in Texas have arrested a student suspected of opening fire during a fight at his Dallas-area high school, leaving four people injured.
Families were reunited Oct. 6 in Mansfield, Texas, after a student opened fire at Timberview High School in Arlington, leaving four people injured. Data show that the start of this school year has been particularly violent compared to previous years.
Tony Gutierrez/AP