Whether the Coronavirus hits the U.S. or not, now is the time schools and school districts should be dusting off their Pandemic Response, Student/Family Reunification, and Continuity of Operations plans in order to prepare for the worst. Schools are required by FEMA and the Department of Education to not only have these plans in place, but to train on implementation of them so they are familiar with response actions.

As a school safety professional who had to work through a major school closure during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, I can assure you that if pre-planning is not in place, you will not be able to effectively work through a pandemic response in your school or school district. If a plan is not in place with local health agencies, it is nearly impossible to work with the WHO or CDC once a pandemic hits. A communications plan internally within the school or district, and externally with parents, is also essential. Lack of communications will create panic, and parents will converge on schools to pick up their kids if there is a panic response should a pandemic surface. One sick child will create this type of panic response. I saw this in my own schools in 2009. Once that panic response starts, the school administration is in a completely reactive mode and it is difficult to maintain control of the school and student accountability.

Schools should be practicing Social Distancing and pre-incident outreach for Universal Precautions in school and at home right now. Establishing the school and district Tipping Point, Devolution of Authority, Lines of Succession, Remote Learning, HIPPA notification regulations, Continuity of Operations Planning, and Return to Normalcy should be topics of discussion at the school and district levels today. If a school is not familiar with these terms, then they probably don’t have a Pandemic Response Plan in place. There is an expectation that you have a plan, so there is liability if you don’t. Only a Superintendent or Head of School can close a school, so understanding the concepts of Area Command and Unified Command are essential for proper decision making. A simple tabletop exercise today can prevent a panic response and unnecessary school closure tomorrow.

A Pandemic Response is no different than a school response to a major flu bug. We spend a lot of time talking about Active Assailant Response to schools, and rightfully so because we can never stop preparing for that worst case scenario. But the reality is there is a .0001% chance of an armed assailant coming to a school in the U.S. on any given day. There is a 100% chance we’ll have a flu season affecting schools every year, so we should prepare for that too. No other emergency incident gives us a four to six-week notification that it is going to hit us. We should treat that warning as a gift, and use the time to prepare. If you try to buy N95 Respirator Masks, alcohol-free hand sanitizer, and other supplies needed to work through a Pandemic once it hits, you won’t be able to find them.

A panic response and unnecessary school closure is not a desired result in schools, as our job is to keep schools open as long as it is safe to do so. Preparing today will help you tomorrow. If you don’t have plans in place, give me a call and I’ll get you headed in the right direction. My contact information is at We’re all in this together and planning today will help us tomorrow.

Stay safe, and stay healthy Gatekeepers…

One of the biggest stressors in education is safety.

One of the biggest stressors in education is safety. Polls taken of college students preparing to graduate with teaching degrees show safety as their major concern as they enter their new career. They feel prepared to begin educating our children, but none of their college curriculum taught them how to prepare to keep their students safe if something bad happens.

Similar polls of upper level school administrators also shows safety as their number one stressor, so not much changes in that area between the time a teacher is a graduate student to the point in their career when they are an upper level school administrator. The only way to change this is to interject realistic, proactive training into the education system. Training builds confidence, and confidence not only lessens stress, it improves safe school culture and climate.

Threat Assessment, Emergency Operations Planning, Emergency Response, Communications Planning, and Emergency Preparedness are just some of the things a school administrator has to concern themselves with in order to remain in compliance with statutes and recommended best practices in order to avoid liability. With all the other areas of education our teachers, administrators, school staff, and school board members already have to worry about, it’s no wonder safety is the leading stressor in the industry.

Digital and Behavioral Threat Assessment and all aspects of school safety will be topics of presentations at our Bridging The Gaps In School Safety workshop, but we’ll also be talking about stress. We call stress the silent killer, and it shows up at every school every day. Join us at our workshop, and let us help you lower your stress level…

Foreseeability is the new legal standard courts use to determine civil or criminal negligence during a school emergency incident.

Foreseeability is the new legal standard courts use to determine civil or criminal negligence during a school emergency incident. Foreseeability is a person’s ability to anticipate the specific result of an action. If a court decides a reasonable person should have been able to foresee results of an emergency incident causing damage or injury, a school and did nothing to address preparedness for that incident, there could be civil liability oven criminal charges.

• We know there will be manmade and natural hazard incidents that will pose a threat to student and staff safety in the future. We know this because data tells us there will be future incidents causing emergency response to schools.
• We know there is a need for Digital and Behavioral Threat Assessment at schools, because the Secret Service has provided data to prove this need in their 2019 report titled “Protecting America’s Schools.

School Safety Operations and Safer Schools Together are pleased to announce the Bridging the Gaps in School Safety 2020 Tour.

School Safety Operations and Safer Schools Together are pleased to announce the Bridging the Gaps in School Safety 2020 Tour. We’re bringing Proactive Measures and Upper Level Support of School Safety to regional markets across the U.S.

Why? Our goal is to ensure schools and districts have access to the information and resources to improve issues related to safe school culture and climate, compliance statutes governing school safety, proactive programs for early identification of at-risk student behavior, and ideas on funding for target hardening, planning, and training programs. Learn More…

Most state and federal school safety grants now have prerequisites requiring schools and districts to have facility assessments performed by Subject Matter Experts independent from any project performed prior to grant application in order to justify grant funding. This is to ensure funding is spent wisely on projects needed to enhance security at any specific school. We would never put a pool in the backyard before we put the roof on the house, so school safety projects need to follow those same principles:

A secure perimeter
A single point of entry and
Doors that can easily lock
These are basic projects for funding before schools can start adding products to enhance these basic safety measures. Emergency Operations Plans MUST also be compliant to the FEMA Guide prior to grant funding. Non-compliance of plans can also result in civil liability.
Proactive measures in school safety planning, training, and response are the most effective method to address today’s level of threat to safe school culture and climate. The recently released report from the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center also recommends schools practice digital and behavioral threat assessment at the school level. These programs require training from a professional Subject Matter Expert. Formation of a collaborative team in schools is the recommended best practice from the U.S. Department of Education as a means to ensure compliance with school emergency management planning and training programs.

These issues, along with case studies from current events related to school safety, will be topics discussed during the Bridging The Gaps Workshop Tour. In order for a school safety team to be effective and have an expectation of successful emergency response, team members and all school staff must receive training. Attendees to this workshop will leave with valuable take-aways they can use to shape and move forwards with safety and emergency management programs in their schools.

Security Solutions are in High Demand by School Districts

By Mary Scott Nabers | 5.2.2019

Over the past two decades, schools throughout the country have beefed up campus security – so much so that the school security market has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Market research firm, IHS Markit, estimates school spending on security projects totaled $2.7 billion in 2017 and that total is expected to hover around $2.8 billion through 2021.

Although the probability of being involved in an active assailant situation is extremely low, this year marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado and the more recent shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that left 17 mortally wounded exposes the fears of students, faculty and parents that school violence is real. In spite of the billions that have already been spent, thousands of schools remain vulnerable.


Many school districts have deployed video surveillance as the epicenter of their security efforts. Campus Safety magazine surveyed school districts and found that about 96 of survey respondents already have some sort of surveillance in place. And, 66 percent of those surveyed said they plan to purchase or upgrade their current video surveillance technology in the next three years. While surveillance is good, most experts point out that school campuses need surveillance with a combination of other safety measures.

Officials at both the federal and state levels of government have worked to secure funding for security upgrades on public school campuses. Following the Florida school shooting in 2017, more than 25 states released about $960 million for school safety initiatives.

New Jersey’s governor approved a state legislative plan to seek voter approval for up to $500 million for school safety upgrades. Texas’ governor proposed $110 million in new school safety recommendations. Most school districts are consolidating state and local funding with federal grants.

One federal grant program authorized by Congress was funded with $1 billion. The legislation allocated $75 million in school safety grants for FY 2018 and $100 million each year from 2019 through 2028.

The U.S. Department of Justice also provided $70 million in grant funding as part of the STOP School Violence Act. This funding is to be used to support school security, student and faculty training and to aid law enforcement and first responders in the event of violent incidents on campuses.

Voters nationwide have shown their willingness to contribute to school and student safety. Many local bond packages have been approved. In Texas, for example, over the last three years more than 80 percent of bond proposals that include funding for security projects have passed.

More funding is available to secure campuses through state agency safety grants. Six million dollars in new school security equipment grants was awarded late last year to address security needs for the more than 100 divisions of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. The funding will support the purchase of video monitoring systems, classroom locks, visitor ID systems, metal detectors, electronic access controls and other security upgrades in 443 schools.

In February, 95 Colorado schools shared approximately $29 million from the School Security Disbursement grant program. These funds are available for capital construction, hardware and devices or equipment that improve security of a school facility.

Hundreds of school districts are in the planning stages of school security projects:

  • In Oklahoma, the Edmond Public School district has approximately $3.7 million to use for enhanced security. Projects under consideration include electronic security and door control devices, shatter-resistant glass film on windows, video surveillance camera systems and student and staff photo ID badges and card reader systems.
  • Trustees for the Spring ISD in Texas approved a fourth safety and security package from proceeds of a successful 2016 bond referendum. Nine campuses will receive $2.6 million for safety upgrades.
  • Voters in Laurel, Montana, will vote soon on a five-year building reserve levy for security projects totaling $1.25 million. Improvements include a new entry system upgrade and keyless entry system installations. Camera and intercom systems would also be modernized.
  • Five capital security projects totaling $10.3 million are planned in the Westfield School District in New Jersey. The first phase of projects is already underway. Approximately $2.6 million is allocated to three schools for automatic lock doors for classroom and stairwells and security gates. Other projects include door replacements at all other elementary schools by summer 2020 as well as other security enhancements.
  • School officials in the Katy ISD in Texas are seeking $7 million from a successful 2017 bond package for campus safety projects. The district wants to upgrade all safety systems.
  • Morgan Hill Unified School District in Silicon Valley, California, plans to ask voters to support a bond package that includes $7 million for school security projects.

Upgrading safety on school campuses is critical and bipartisan efforts are underway to provide the funding with contracting opportunities immediately available in every state in the nation.

Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released bookInside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

Overcoming what scares us most to advance career as education administrator

The team at the International School Safety Institute travels globally to facilitate trainings for education and law enforcement professionals involved in school safety. Some aspects of our training involve hands-on tabletop exercises directed at responses to man-made or natural threats. During these trainings, we see participants exhibit phenomenal critical thinking and response skills while working through these exercises. They are not afraid to do what’s required of them in the simulated scenarios.

While we ask educators and administrators to do what’s required to protect lives, when we ask them to present to a group of people, particularly their peers, we see people freeze. Many lapse into the physical reaction of turning “red


Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD8) directed multiple federal agencies to work together to identify preparedness goals to address the greatest threats posed to the security of our nation. These threats included terrorist threats, domestic and foreign, and Active Assailant events. PPD8 was written in January of 2013 and went into effect in July of 2013. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified five Mission Areas needed to be addressed for a governmental or non-governmental agency to be considered prepared. These same five Mission Areas are written into the FEMA Guide For High Quality Emergency Operations Plans. This guide came out in July of 2013 and is available on line for free. It contains everything schools and school districts need to do in terms of planning in order to be prepared for natural or manmade disaster incidents, including these five Mission Areas:

  1. Prevention
  2. Protection
  3. Mitigation
  4. Response
  5. Recovery

I have read or referenced the FEMA Guide hundreds of times throughout the course of my work, and nowhere in that guide did I see reference to Overreacting or Knee Jerk Reactions as preparedness Mission Areas. Yet in the wake of last week’s Parkland FL. school massacre, I’m hearing a lot of just that from a lot of people, including representatives of our government. In my opinion as a school safety professional, the most dangerous of those knee jerk overreactions is arming school teachers. I offer that opinion as a trained professional in both law enforcement and school safety, based on research in both industries. The day we take to arming teachers as a solution to school violence is also the day we must raise the white flag of surrender to the domestic terrorists too often mistakenly referred to as “School Shooters.

International School Safety Institute Announces 2019 Conference

Preparing to Keep Children Safer in School

The International School Safety Institute Announces 2019 Conference Designed to Facilitate Improved School Safety Programs; Missy Jenkins-Smith to open conference as keynote speaker

(San Diego, California – January 29, 2019) The International School Safety Institute™ (ISSI) has announced its 2019 Conference which will take place in San Diego, California at the Sheraton Tower and Maria Hotel on September 30 – October 2nd. This year’s conference coined Beyond the Edge, reflects the climate and culture of school safety and will deliver workshops and general sessions presented by leading voices in school safety education to help improve the design and implementation of the school safety programs and outcomes. The Conference will include peer to peer exchange of information, special guest speakers and resources and tools from exhibitors.

Since 2011, International School Safety Institute has hosted the Conference annually to highlight state-of-the-art analysis, training and guidance to maximize school safety, while staying compliant with Federal and State school safety laws. Developed for education administrators and educators, law enforcement personnel and others responsible for implementing safety and security procedures in educational environment, the Conference has consistently pursued an education-first position. The Conference is also open to parents who want to be knowledgeable and be active participants in school safety protocols.

On September 30th, the conference will kick-off with workshops and speakers including Kristen Amicone, Director of Education & Technology for the San Diego Police Foundation, Theresa Campbell and Sam Jingfors of Safer Schools Together and Jeff Kaye of School Safety Operations. October 1 and October 2 will be comprised of the conference and exhibitor showcase and demonstrations such as window security films, aerial drone surveillance, electronic locks and disaster suppliers and mass notification systems to name a few. Missy Jenkins will serve as the opening day keynote address. Ms. Jenkins was permanently injured in Paduka, Kentucky school shooting. Since that time, Ms. Jenkins has become an author and mother and lives a life of joy in spite of the violence she experienced as a student.

In the last two years, the Conference has experienced 40% growth in audience participation and is on a trajectory to attract 300 plus attendees this year. It has become a valuable resource for sharing school safety and emergency management tools as proactive resource to channel culture and climate issues such as school violence, cyber threats, social media, suicide and teen alcohol and drug use including effects of THC on young brains.

In today’s educational environment, it is critical that leaders are getting the full culture and climate picture to keep our children safer when under their charge. By attending our conference, district administrators and educators along with law enforcement and parents can access the newest findings from industry experts, emergency training and resources to keep children safer in the classroom,