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.


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.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
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.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

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 How a Superintendent Urged Parents to Discuss Gun Violence With Their Kids
The leader of the school district that serves Monterey Park, Calif., encouraged parents not to "let the TV do the talking."
5 min read
A woman comforts her son while visiting a makeshift memorial outside Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Authorities searched for a motive for the gunman who killed multiple people at the ballroom dance studio during Lunar New Year celebrations.
A woman comforts her son while visiting a memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., two days after a gunman killed 11 people and injured several others as they celebrated Lunar New Year.
Jae C. Hong/AP
School Climate & Safety Guidance on Responding to Students' Questions About Shootings
A guide for educators on ways to foster a sense of safety and security among students at a time when gun violence seems widespread.
4 min read
People gather for a vigil honoring the victims of a shooting several days earlier at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. A gunman killed multiple people late Saturday amid Lunar New Year's celebrations in the predominantly Asian American community.
Two days after a mass shooting that killed 11 people, people gather for a vigil outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif. In the aftermath of shootings and other community violence, educators are called on to help students process their emotions and help them feel safe.
Ashley Landis/AP
School Climate & Safety Many Schools Don't Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Are They Overlooking the Risk?
Less than a quarter of states have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.
5 min read
Image of a carbon monoxide detector with a blurred blueprint in the background.
School Climate & Safety Students of Color Disproportionately Suffer From Police Assaults at School, Says Report
A new report tallies up assaults by school-based police officers on students of color.
6 min read
Deputy Carroll walks the hall of Rice Elementary School with an administrator on Wednesday.
A school police officer walks the halls of Rice Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C., with an administrator on April 6, 2022.
Lindsey Hodges/The Index-Journal via AP