Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Information Technology & Identity Theft Concerns & Information Assurance

Community College Loses Data Device with Student and Worker Info

October 21, Knoxville News Sentinel – (Tennessee) Roane State data device with student, worker info missing. A data storage device containing the names and Social Security numbers of more than 10,000 people has been missing since October 12 when it was stolen from a Roane State Community College employee’s car while it was parked off-campus in Knox County, college officials announced today. The college has issued an “ID alert” on its Web site, sent letters to anyone who may be affected by the theft and has notified major consumer reporting agencies. The device was used for work-related purposes. “Immediately after the theft, we did not want to release information that would interfere with the investigation,” said Roane State vice president. “Once it became clear an arrest, or the recovery of the device, was not imminent, we informed those affected as quickly as possible.” The device contained the names and Social Security numbers of 10,941 people, including 1,194 current or former employees and 9,747 current or former students. The device also contained the Social Security numbers only, but no names, for 5,036 current or former students. No academic records were on the device. The community college has posted more information here, www.roanestate.edu/idalert. The college has also set up a hot line to handle questions from those affected by the theft. The number is 865-882-4688 or toll-free 1-866-462-7722, extension 4688.

October 4, Newsday – (New York) E-mail error sends out students’ Social Security numbers. Suffolk Community College has agreed to pay a company for the next year to monitor the credit of 300 students whose last names and Social Security numbers were mistakenly listed in an attachment to an e-mail sent to those students last month. The college vice president, said Sunday there is “no indication” that any of the personal information has been misused, but added that the college decided “it was the right step to take the extra precaution” to minimize students’ risk of identity theft. The error, said the vice president, occurred late in the day September 17 and was discovered the next morning. She said college officials immediately shut down the server and took steps to retrieve unopened messages and attachments. She could not say how much of the personal information was recovered or whether anyone was disciplined for the security breach. The vice president declined to comment on whether the college would be liable if student’s information was misused, saying such circumstances are “conjecture” at this point. The same day the college learned of the problem, the vice president said school officials mailed a letter to inform students of the problem and alert them to immediate steps they could take to protect their personal data, including registering an alert with the three companies that monitor credit information.

Points for Consideration:
  • Does your department, school, or district have information and IT device controls and protocols for handling (physical, virtual, & human) and safe storage?
  • Should this personal information become, lost, stolen, or compromised does your organization know what to do? What specifics steps would you take should an information compromise occur?
  • Getting rid of old cell phones, zip disks, CDROMs, and computers that may contain personal information need to be considered when discarding items.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When Tragedy Strikes A Community, Young Students Are Effected


TRAGIC EVENT: In Erie, Pennsylvania, a 29 yr old man shot and killed a 27 yr old woman and their two daughters (ages 4 and 7) in his home before killing himself.

Who in Erie County has considered the effects of these deaths upon their fellow school children? Who in a community coordinates with schools when a tragedy outside of school occurs? What about the students who know the young girls that were killed? Reacting to a community tragedy and determining the impact upon your student population immediately puts a school leadership team into the RECOVERY PHASE of the Emergency Management Process.

Post Tragedy Intervention For a School /School District:
  • Designate someone to track incidents which occur that could effect our young students.
  • Have that designee discuss the incident with school leadership and the guidance department and school psychologist to develop a strategy for crisis counseling.
  • Identify and solicit for students effected by the tragedy to determine the scale and scope
  • Review the resources available for counseling those students designated as requiring counseling.
  • Develop counseling courses of action:
    • Individual student counseling 
    • Group or class counseling 
    • Class Discussion with scripted counseling points
    • School Announcement or Assembly
    • Memorial Service
Someone needs to be looking out for the students when tragedy (fires, violence, accidents, crimes, etc.)  occurs in our communities. What are we doing for them when they come to school?


15 Yr Old Student Holds Class Hostage & Then Kills Himself in Wisconsin


Nov 29, 2010   Marinette, Wisconsin. A 15 yr old student (Sam Hengel) from Marinette High School went on a bathroom break during his 6th period social studies class. He retrieved a backpack from his locker with 2 semi-automatic pistols, 200 rounds of ammunition, and a pair of knives. He entered the classroom and held 23 classmates and his teacher (Valerie Burd) hostage. He immediately fired three shots, blasting a hole in a wall and tearing apart a film projector. No one else in the school apparently recognized the sound of the shots as gunfire. 

Students talked to Sam Hengel about everything from hunting and fishing to his favorite movies in an attempt to keep him calm. Hengel told the teacher to post a note on the door telling seventh-period students to report to the library. As a result, no one realized the class was in danger until about a half-hour after school ended, when a man came to the school office looking for his daughter. Principal Corry Lambie determined the last class the girl attended was Western Civilization and went to the room to find the door locked. When Lambie unlocked the door, Hengel pointed his gun at him and told him to leave. Hengel allowed the girl to go with Lambie.

The standoff dragged on for four more hours, with teacher acting as a go-between for Hengel and police. A SWAT team stormed the room after Hengel fired three shots about 8 p.m., destroying the classroom phone and hitting a computer. Hengel shot himself as officers reached him. He died the next morning at 10:44 am. The hostages were released until 8 pm.


1:30 pm 6th period classes start. 26 students report to the Western Civilization class taught by Valerie Burd (Rm A111). Some time during 6th period, Sam Hengel requests to go to the restroom and returns with a duffel bag containing weapons. Holds classmates and teacher hostage.

2:10 pm transition to 7th period classes. Students reporting to Mrs. Burd's classroom see note on door instructing them to report to the library as previously planned.

3:12 pm The school day ends.

3:40 pm A  parent who has been trying to reach his daughter to pick her up arrives at the high school office. Principal Lambie reviewed student daily attendance records to determine that the student was present at 6th period but not 7th. The same was true for a friend of that student.

3:45 pm Principal Lambie goes to Rm A111 and found the room dark with the door locked. He unlocked the door and entered the room. Sam Hengel pointed a weapon at him and told him to leave. The student whose father had come to the school left the room also.

3:48 pm Principal Lambie calls 9-1-1 to report the incident. The building was evacuated and Room A111 was isolated.

3:51 pm First law enforcement officer arrives on scene. Additional law enforcement and emergency medical continue to arrive.

7:40 pm Five (5) students are allowed to leave the classroom after requesting to use the restroom.

8:03 pm Gunshots are heard in the classroom and law enforcement personnel breach the door. The suspect shoots himself as authorities approach. Remaining students and the teacher are safely evacuated. During the night, an explosive detection canine conducts a safety sweep of the building and investigators collect evidence.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Teen Suicide Due To Sexting


In September 2009, a 13-year-old girl in Florida named Hope Witsell hanged herself. Raised in a rural Florida suburb, she was the only child of a church-going couple who met in the post office where they're both employed.  Hope's suicide became the second with a clear link to sexting and the peer torture that can follow from it. At the end of seventh grade last spring, Hope sent a photo of her breasts to a boy she liked, and the picture went viral at her school. "Tons of people talk about me behind my back and I hate it because they call me a whore!" Hope wrote in her journal before her death.

Jessie Logan, who was 18 and lived outside Cincinnati, hanged herself last July after nude photos she sent to her boyfriend circulated widely among teenagers she knew. What explains this awful chain of events that leads to tragedy? Is this just the usual bullying, only with different tools, or a distinct harm unto itself? And are these isolated cases or legitimate cause for the wider uproar over sexting?

Points To Consider:
With each technological change in our student's lives, we must consider the positive and negative consequences. Parents need to monitor, and if warranted, modify the texting features of their kids to ensure their kids are doing the right things at the right times.

Monday, November 22, 2010

School Safety Drills News Story

This is a news story which talks about the importance of drills and designing them to cause the school community to think. I do not agree with color codes and am a fan of the use of plain language instead such as LOCKDOWN vice Code Red....

Sunday, November 21, 2010



AS AN EDUCATIONAL LEADER (PRESIDENT OF A COLLEGE, SUPERINTENDENT, PRINCIPAL), When it comes to Critical Information these are some key questions you may want to ask yourself:
  • Death, Injury, Accident, Threat, Crime or Harassment, Bullying of a Student or School Employee
  • Dangerous or Poor Weather (Wind, Rain, Storm, Lightening, Ice, Snow, Heat, Tornado, Hurricane)
  • Information about the School Facility / Plant (Loss of Heat, A/C, Electricity, Water, Sewage, Air Quality, Virus/MRSA, etc.)
Situation: PRINCIPAL IN THE DARK: A Principal returned to school after a weekend and started his typical Monday morning. Over the weekend a number of things had occurred that the Principal was unaware. A number of individuals within the school community were aware of the negative events which occurred but had not shared with the Principal. A well known & beloved out-in-town after-school community program counselor (who had helped generations of students) had died of a heart attack and a former student had been stabbed out in town by a member of a different racial group. The injured student was dating another student in school as well.
  • Some teachers were aware of the student's attack and the community counselor's death, but did not discuss with school leadership. They assumed they knew about it.
  • School Resource Officer was on vacation as was not made aware of the act of violence and the police did not communicate this with the school leadership. Principal assumed the police would keep her informed if an act of violence pertaining to a student occurred even if it was out in town. 
The Principal discovered this when the Guidance Department reported a large volume of despondent students reporting to see their guidance counselors about the community counselor's death. The girlfriend of the attacked student was generating drama about what had happened and there were some discussions about concerns about the possibility about retribution. This all made for a tense and frustrating Monday morning leaving the Principal feeling like he was the last one to know about what was going on.

As the Educational Leader of your institution to not be kept informed of important information will cause you to REACT to events instead of PREVENT or be able to shape and influence incidents that ocur and the negative information associated with it.

Animal Threats in the School Community (Natural Threats)


Whether it is a freak occurrence like a deer charging a reflection or a human OR a bear which is startled or hungry accidents and attacks can occur to affect our school community.

ALASKA BEAR ATTACK AT SCHOOL BUS STOP:  A 12 year old boy walking alone to his school bus stop in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in Seward, Alaska was attacked by a female brown bear, but escaped serious injuries. It was dark, and the student saw the bear approaching with cubs and turned to leave, but the bear caught up with him and knocked him to the ground. The boy knew to cover up and his backpack bore the brunt of the attack. The bear lost interest and departed. He was taken to Providence Seward Hospital and was released. 

Lesson Learned:
  • Parents are urged to stay with their children while waiting for the school bus to arrive
  • Garbage left in the area is a draw for bears as a food source.

DEER JUMPS THRU OHIO SCHOOL WINDOW:  A big antlered buck deer charged through a glass window pane and into a student union at an Ohio Denison University before it was killed. The deer was locked inside the room before it was killed. It is believed the deer saw his reflection in the glass and mistook it for another male deer and charged the image through the glass.

DEER CRASHES THRU WINDOW AT DESALES UNIVERSITY (PA) BEFORE CLASS: On November 3, at 8:54 a.m., a 6-point, 300 pound dressing weight buck slammed through a first floor window a few minutes before a History and Philosophy of Sport class was about to begin. About 6 students were in the classroom at the time. The buck was chasing a doe up to the window. After crashing through the window, the buck began to thrash, kicking over desks and backpacks and scattering papers throughout the classroom. The commotion caused student Harry Getty ’13, to exit through the window. “I didn’t see anything until I heard a thud against the wall and then a huge crash, a black thing landed right next to me …. I saw its legs start kicking and knocking over bags and when I saw the antlers I knew what it was so I tried to jump through the bottom window, but since the blind was still down I banged my head on a metal bar before I landed outside. In hindsight, I probably should have gone through the big hole the deer had just made, because I cut my hands up on the glass that fell on the counter,” said Getty.

Getty sustained cuts on his hands, forehead and thigh, but was immediately treated by EMS and was taken to the hospital. 2 members of Campus Police arrived at the scene after receiving multiple emergency calls.   “When we arrived on the scene we found an injured buck in the classroom with one of its rear legs broken to the extent where it could not make the leap back out of the classroom,” said Officer Tempinski. Because of the deer’s injuries and out of concern for student welfare, Tempinski decided to put the deer down and two shots were fired from to do so.  The classroom was cleaned extensively and was in use the next day.

Points for Discussion:
  • CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE: Not every school is located in an urban environment and even so, sometimes nature invades even heavily populated areas due to overpopulation. For example, in some suburban areas of New Jersey their have been an over population of bears and increased opportunity for bear-human interaction.
  • SURVIVAL KNOWLEDGE: The boy who was attacked by the brown bear had been taught to play dead in order to survive. This knowledge may have saved his life.
  • SEASONAL ANIMAL THREATS: Various animals behavior changes during various seasons and can as discussed above, can affect our school communities.
  • RECOVERY PHASE of EM PROCESS: Post incident part of an incident requires tasks in the RECOVERY PHASE such as counseling (kids afraid of waiting at bus stops, terror of a 300 lb buck jumping thru their class window) and class room clean up and repair.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

High Wind Gusts can create Natural Hazards that can Kill or Injure


High wind gusts knock over hydraulic lift and kill a student taping a college football practice.
A 20 yr old college student (Declan Sullivan) who was videotaping a Notre Dame football practice was killed when high winds knocked over the hydraulic scissor lift he was standing upon. The lift was used as a platform to provide an overhead vantage point to film the practice. According to sources, the directions that came with the lift warned against its use during high winds. The wind gusts caused towels and a Gatorade cooler to fly into the air as well as the netting on the goal post to bend. Sullivan even tweeted that it was "terrifying" during the 51 mph wind gusts before he was killed. Sullivan died en route to the hospital in South Bend Indiana.

Strong winds knock over a 10 foot high brick wall at a school killing a construction worker.
In July 2010, a storm in the small town of Edgerton, Ohio destroyed a small town and damaged homes. In August 2010, a construction worker was killed at a northwest Ohio school construction site when a brick wall fell on him following some strong winds that blew through the area. It was undetermined if the previous storm weakened the wall or if it was strong winds that day caused it to collapse.

  • Unless we receive a dangerous weather warning, we typically don't pay much heed to bad weather. It is important for all school personnel to develop an ALL HAZARD MINDSET to identify what CAN or MIGHT cause injury, damage, or death to people in our school community. While not being paranoid, it is important to THINK and PLAN WORST CASE SCENARIO when it comes to school preparedness. 
    • Hope for the best, PLAN for the Worst, and you will be READY for anything in between.
  • Following the storm in Ohio, was their a structural safety assessment conducted at the school / construction site to identify hazards? 
    • The RECOVERY PHASE of an incident (June storm) can often get overlooked, but the inability to recover from an incident can create conditions for another hazardous incident.
  • The GIFT of FEAR: Imagine if Declan Sullivan listened to his inner voice that caused him to tweet he was terrified and he got down from the hydraulic lift instead of tweeting his concern. Often times we can only lessen the hazards (seen and unseen) by degrees, but that might make all of the difference. In the preparedness business, it is often said, "you make your luck" .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A 65 yr old Teacher Stops a Fight Between a Student Couple, Collapses, and Dies


On Friday morning (7:25 am) June 4 in Fitchburg, Mass; a 65-yr-old teacher was found unconscious without a pulse. The school nurse attempted to revive him but he was later pronounced dead at the local hospital. His collapse occurred after breaking up a fight between a boyfriend and a girlfriend in the hallway of Fitchburg HS. There was no indication that he was injured or struck while intervening in the student fight.

Commentary: While the exact cause of this teacher's death are unknown this incident raises some issues for consideration.
  • Teachers health and welfare are important especially stress management. Teaching can be a stressful profession and establishing activities which can help one manage stress is important.
  • Following a school incident, school leaders and everyone must be hyper-vigilant for a sceondary response to the first incident.
    • School members may be in poor health.
    • Anxiety or asthma attacks
    • A student with defacto PTSD from violent family experiences from the country he immigrated
  • Teachers need to consider what they will and should do when violence occurs in the school environment. The goal is to maintain safety at all times, but how does one do that:
    • Girls can be just as violent as boys when they fight, sometimes can be more unpredictable.
    • Prevention requires continual vigilance and strict policies as consequences for fighting. 
  • What is the protocol in your school if someone is seriously injured or unconscious. Remember, It always starts with activating 911 by phone, not a call to the main office or the school nurse.
  • Are there AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) at your school? How many? Where are they located? Who is trained to use them?
    • If not how do you obtain funding to get them....?

Gunman Fires Weapon at California Elementary School, Two Injured


At approximately 12:15 local time during a school lunch break, Brendan O'Rourke, 41, dressed in dark clothing parked his car jumped a fence and walked onto Kelly Elementary School (Carlsbad, CA) campus carrying a .357 Magnum and a small gas can. He opened fire with five shots into a crowd of children on a playground at a Carlsbad elementary school Friday, leaving two female students (ages 6 & 7) with minor gunshot (grazed by the bullets) injuries. Teachers and students escaped into the nearby classrooms from outside including the two injured female students. They were transported via Mercy Air to a local hospital for treatment.  

The assailant "sprayed" gunfire before apparently running out of ammunition and trying to flee. A nearby construction worker drove his vehicle and knocked the gunmen down as other nearby adults grabbed him. He was attempting to reload before he was stopped. There was a propane gas tank found in the gunman's car. At present it is not believed that the gunmen is associated with anyone at the school, making the school's selection as a random act of violence. The combination of the gas can the gunman carried coupled with the propane tank lead one to believe he had even more destructive intentions. (Note: The Columbine School shooting was actually designed as a propane bomb attack gone awry with the attackers planning on shooting the survivors as they tried to escape.)

The school, located approximately 35 miles north of San Diego, was placed on lockdown until further notice as police gathered evidence. Parents of students were asked to meet at Laguna Rivera Park, which is a short distance from the school. Counselors will be at the school Monday to help students, staff and families "handle the anxiety and fear that can result from a traumatic experience."

Points for Consideration:
  • Unfortunately violence at school can occur at anytime whether it is pre-planned or random. 
  • Developing a PREPAREDNESS Mindset is important. Think of school incidents not as IF whether something is going to happens but WHEN something happens .
  • Some questions to ponder:
    • What would you immediately do if you saw a suspicious person at your school or on school grounds? Demonstrating strange behavior (jumping a fence)?
    • What would you immediately do if you saw someone with a gun or a dangerous object ( a gas can)?
    • After an attacker was subdued what immediate actions would you take?
    • Does your school have a student reunification site at a remote location? Does the receiving remote location know they have been chosen as the site? Have you developed a plan and conducted a talk through /walk through between agencies? How will students be transported to that location? How will you maintain accountability during this process and when a parent asks "where is my child?"
  • Following an act of violence, the school (or surrounding area) is a crime scene until processed (hours, days) and cleared by law enforcement. You may not be able to go back into the building. Teacher's and driving student's car keys, purses, cell phones, jackets with wallets, etc. may not be available until the next day. If there was a bomb threat or incident may not be until much later....
  • If damage was done to the facility it needs to be repaired which is part of the recovery process. Who from the school or school district conducts this coordination and with what business? Identify these businesses ahead of time.
  • What children and staff saw what part of the incident? This is critical for determining potential witnesses and for on-scene and post-incident counseling.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How Good Are Your School Bus Drivers...?

Points to Ponder:
  • Who checks the credentials of the school bus drivers that drive your students to school?
  • What type of assessment is done throughout the school year as to their performance?
    • Do parents and school officials have a process for assessing bus driver performance or do you react to an incident and then fix the problem after the fact...? 

A West Haven CT bus driver was charged with driving with a suspended license and due to his poor judgement and substandard driving performance for putting 21 students lives at risk. The bus he was driving got stuck under a bridge in water (due to flooding) under the Washington Ave bridge following a ongoing rainstorm. The students had to stand on the seats as water flowed through the bus. The driver was 70 years old and he disregarded an orange cone warning of the rising flood waters. He drove over the cone and got stuck in the rising water until the bus stalled. The driver was charged with 21 counts of risk of injury to a minor as a result.

Just because school buses are out of sight and out of mind is no reason to assume the school bus drivers are administratively current in their certifications, and operationally sound in the employment of their vehicle.

Rescheduling a Sports Event due to an Incident in the Community

Points to Ponder:
  • Violent acts from our community can sometimes spill over into our schools and school related events.
  • School officials need to maintain situational awareness in the community so they can prevent situations from developing that could result in increased danger to the school community.  
  • Rescheduling events (a game or a lunch period, etc.) can throw off a planned event (fight, food fight, riot) if you have information that some nefarious elements (gang, criminals, expelled former students, etc.) may have planned to cause violence.
    • Individuals and groups (gangs) that participate in routine substance abuse often have unusual sleep cycles due to the daily recovery cycle required to function.
  • Night time is typically the time where larger groups of people can assemble due to school being let out and work over. 
  • Collaboration between decisionmakers and public safety professionals is critical to prevent incidents or mitigate potential problems.

Rescheduled Football Game:
On Sept. 30, 2010, Stamford School Superintendent (Joshua Starr) rescheduled a football game after collaboration with their city's police department due to the shooting deaths of two adult males (a 31 yr old male and a 20 yr old male) from both cities, Norwalk CT and Stamford CT. There was some concern pertaining to the possibility of retaliation from the death of these two men. The two teams playing were Stamford High School and Brien McMahon High School from Norwalk. The game was rescheduled from 6 pm to 3:30 pm.

Rescheduling a school event due to a potential problem or threat sends a message to those considering causing a problem that the school is aware and proactively maintailing control of the safety and security of their school community.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Middletown CT Middle School Evacuated due to Fire

Points To Consider:
  • Plans are important, but Drills build capability and can save lives.
  • Smoke kills more people than fire.
  • Thinking about a full school evacuation to a fire on a Friday morning is the last thing you would expect.
  • Incidents occur when you least expect them 
  • Did an evacuation relocation plan for student reunification with parents exist?
  • How were student relocated to the reunification site? Walk? Bus?
  • How would have this evacuation and relocation have been different if it was in February?  

What happend: An electrical room fire which generated smoke forced the evacuation and closure of Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Two custodians were sent to the hospital with minor smoke inhalation. The fire started at 8:15 am Friday morning which sent smoke throughout the building.The school staff and around 700 students evacuated the building without incident. The school remained closed for the remainder of the day while officials evaluated damage (smoke damage). The fire was limited to the electrical room and is under investigation.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

A TORNADO? Why worry, I don't live in Kansas?

Tornadoes don’t only happen out west or in Kansas. However unlikely for your area, they can occur almost anywhere. This is exactly why school’s need to take an ALL HAZARD approach to school preparedness.

Sept 16, 2010: An east coast storm that generates two tornadoes and a micro-burst wind storm struck in the New York City region and generated 125 mph winds in the surrounding areas on Thursday evening during rush hour. The storm traveled across the high population dense urban areas in Brooklyn and Queens toppling trees and power lines, crushing cars, peeled away roofs, and unfortunately killed a woman sitting in her car alongside her husband. One of the tornadoes hit the NYC area at 5:33 pm with winds up to 80 mph and the other tornado hit the NYC area at 5:42 pm with winds up to 100 mph traveling in a path of four miles through the city. It was the micro-burst (an intense gust of wind that pours down from a storm) that generated 125 mph winds that covered an area 8 miles long by 5 miles causing considerable storm damage and loss of power. Residents and commuters were stunned and many people came close to injury and death as it occurred during rush hours including parents picking children up from after-school activities. There were 60 reports of buildings with possible structural damage.

Points to Ponder:
  • A dangerous weather incident can occur at any time, in this real world weather emergency this storm could have affected your school's:
    • Faculty, staff, and student families returning home from school.
    • Teams and fans traveling to and from an away game school sporting event
    • A Thursday night school home sporting event you are hosting, band competition, or play.
    • Students being released from an after-school program for working parents or sports practice.
  • How does your school track and monitor weather? How does school leadership use this weather tracking method to develop decision points (postpone, cancel, or continue) scheduled school events that maybe effected by weather? How are weather announcements made for school events?
  • Following this storm, HOW do you check and WHO checks for structural damage in your school and school facilities?
  • Your school may be fine but an adjacent one may be damaged and may require the temporary or short term use of your facilities? Do you have a plan for this? Have you coordinated with adjacent school for this type of event?
  • If your school is damaged do you have a school continuity of operations plan (COOP)?
In March of 2010, there was a severe storm to the Northeast and our school in Connecticut was not damaged, save for an outside scoreboard. However, due to downed trees and associated power-lines throughout the city it created unsafe conditions for school children in their neighborhoods; we couldn’t open the school up for five school days.


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Sept 2010: A 15 year old Swiss boy who purchased a laser pointer from the Internet damaged his eye sight. He was shining the laser pointer at a mirror to create a light show and accidentally zapped his eyes a few times. (In the US laser pointers have FDA restrictions to prevent immediate damage. The laser the boy purchased was 30 times more powerful than the FDA restricted laser pointers.) The boy is being treated at the Lucerne Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland and noticed blurred vision almost immediately. He was afraid of getting in trouble and didn't tell his parents for two weeks. His vision was so affected in his damaged eye he could not see three fingers held up more than three feet away.

  • Most schools have policies pertaining to restricted or dangerous items and laser pointers need to be included.
  • If a student is found in violation of having a laser pointer, they need to be punished and the word needs to get out to the student population.
  • Sometimes businesses have given out laser pointers as part of an advertising or marketing gimmick, be aware.
  • I have confiscated two laser pointers in the past: one was being used by a student in the library and one was being used by a student in the cafeteria. 
  • Teachers who use laser pointers need to treat them as they would any controlled substance, such as a chemical in chemistry lab. If a laser pointer is left out, it will disappear and reappear when a student has it in their possession and is using it inappropriately. The teacher will be liable, let alone if someone is injured. Wouldn't recommend having them in your classroom, if you can't control its security. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back To School & Back To School Preparedness Blog

I have been busy this summer and have not had much opportunity to blog, but I am back. I have read three books and am in the process of reading a fourth that pertain to school preparedness. I approached each reading with the goal of identifying observations, lessons learned, and issues unresolved to apply to the school preparedness process. The following books I completed are:
  • NO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT by Lucinda Roy.  The author was the English Dept Chair at Va Tech who individually taught Seung-Hui Cho and attmepted to ensure he received treatment before he went on a rampage shooting in April 2007.
  • MY BLOODY LIFE: The Making of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez. The author tells of life as a child, young adult, and adult in the Latin Kings gang in Chicago. Provides insights into the recruiting of kids and day-to-day activities of gang members.
  • COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen. The author was one of the original reporters involved with the April 20, 1999 reports of the horrific school shooting at Columbine HS. He conducted ten years of research and conducted a detailed review of police, FBI, and shooter's records, files, videos, etc.
I am presently reading:
  • RAMPAGE: The Social Roots of School Shootings by Katherine S. Newman. This Harvard Professor and Dean lead a team of doctoral students who conducted a Dept of Education funded two year research project focused on school violence (shootings) and the possible causes associated with school rampage shootings.
Good to be back, and looking forward to preparing our school's for a safe and secure academic year!!!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Terrorists & Terrorism: Not near my School....Not in my Town...

In the area of School Preparedness, I am a firm believer in PREPAREDNESS, NOT PARANOIA so I try to present a balanced approach to ALL HAZARDS (Natural or Man-Made; Safety & Security). There is a tendency to focus on safety and security as it relates to school community related man-made threats. Any link to terrorists or terrorism is still a foreign (no pun intended) concept to most Americans as we perceive it as something that happens elsewhere or to someone else.

From 2006 to 2009, this self proclaimed "Muslim Soldier" who confessed to the May 1, 2010 Time Square Car Bomb attempt worked 5 minutes from the school I work at at a distance of less than 2 miles...?

I make this point not for the sensational value or inferring that any school was a target of this terrorist, while it wasn't PROBABLE, it was POSSIBLE. Not trying to reverse-engineer the probable logic path of a terrorist attack at a school in the US, but is it POSSIBLE. Schools are generally considered softer targets and are not overtly,or always designed, with security measures in mind. (Some schools still actually debate keeping their front door locked during the school day...?)

When the 30 year old recently naturalized Pakistani-American FAISAL SHAHZAD was arrested for and confessed to being the Times Square Car Bomber all of America wanted to know:
WHO was he? A 30 year old recently naturalized (from Pakistan) citizen living in Shelton, Connecticut who was a college graduate, husband, father, home-owner; who fell on hard financial times.
Was he alone or part of a larger group? Where did he come from? He traveled to Pakistan his country of origin and received bomb-making classes from the Islamic Extremist Network (Al Qaeda / Taliban associates).
How did he plan, prepare, and execute this attempted attack? He attended bomb training in Pakistan twice. He selected the time, location, and method to create maximum casualties at a symbolic location (NYC). He illegally purchased a car which he used for the car bombing attempt. He received cash drop offs for funding twice from a supporter, once in Massachusetts and once on Long, Island NY. He had an weapon with him for self defense.
Why did he commit this terrorist act? Supporting Islamic extremist views of "self-defense" against the US forces in Muslim countries in the Middle East. His claims of revenge for the US indiscriminate killing of Muslims, and US forces in Muslim lands...etc.
Why did he complete this terrorist act? The bomb failed to detonate and the car bomb left suspiciously parked was discovered by an alert street vendor who notified NYPD who evacuated the area. He was arrested 53 hours later boarding a US flight to the United Arab Emirates as he attempted to escape.

While not something anyone of us likes to consider, but their are mentally unbalanced individuals, criminals, extremists, and terrorists sometimes functioning (living, working) as close as five minutes away from your school community -you cannot rule out or wish away the possibility, despite its probability.   

Student Safety: In and Out of School (HS Junior Killed by falling off a Car)

During the last week of June, a high school junior facing his upcoming senior year in the September at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls, CT. He died due to head injuries he sustained when he fell off of or out of a moving car. The accident occurred on a Monday night at 10:22 pm. He was riding on top of a Honda Civic and he fell off when it drove forward. The car contained his twin brother who was also 17 and a friend who is 18 yrs old. It is uncertain if he was on the roof or the trunk, and their is a pending CT State Police (CSP) investigation. The CSP will determine the circumstances and it any charges will be filed. A great young man who liked to play golf, hang out with friends; he is no longer with us.

Points for Consideration:
  • Summer Safety Brief for All Students. Schools typically have a pre-graduation safety brief prior to prom season and graduation. This needs to continue, but why not expand that to all of the student population tailored to summer student safety as well?
    • Vehicle Safety, Water Safety, Boating, Fireworks Safety, Social Networking & Cyber -Bullying Safety, Firearms Safety, Crime Prevention & Personal Safety , just to name a few...
  • Graduating Seniors and Adulthood Responsibilities. The 18 year old driver or occupant of the car can be held liable for his actions or inactions as an adult as opposed to the 17 yr old...? Adult responsibilities are often not considered by 18 yr old students or graduates.
  • Every school is trying to develop lifelong learners as we prepare them academically and socially to enter adulthood and become the future leaders of our communities. 
  • Students who drive need to understand some of the science and physics behind driving. I think it would have a great effect for a high school physics teacher to discuss the physics behind a car crash and the effects upon a human body (seat-belted and not) or a scenario where a student was trying to hold onto a car while it was driving and it stops or accelerates. Or have a local police department conduct a crime scene investigation and how it is done. (I attended a community citizen's police academy and the accident investigation class was enlightening to say the least.) Many drivers are not aware of the tremendous force a vehicle can generate.  

Preparedness isn't just for school, and it is not "done to" the students. They have an active present and future role and responsibility is being prepared to recognize all hazards throughout their lives. School's need to instill preparedness throughout the school community whether school is in session or not. This nests with the local community's preparedness efforts and builds a network of informed and prepared citizens.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Small Plane Crashes Into Arizona High School, Four People Killed

(June 2010)  A small Cessna plane crashed into Round Valley High School in Eager, a small eastern Arizona town. The Cessna plane circled the area two or three times before it suddenly nosedived into the main building at Round Valley High School at about 2 p.m. and exploded. There were no reports of injuries on the ground and the blaze was contained to the main school building. Two hours later, flames were still erupting 20 to 30 feet above the roof of the two-story school. Fortunately, classes were out for the summer so no students or school personnel were injured. The school serves about 500 students in Eager and nearby Springerville and is about 200 miles east of Phoenix.

Four witnesses tried to get into the school building, but the doors were locked. As they were leaving, the plane exploded. Fire crews from nearly a dozen small towns in the region raced to battle the flames which occurred overnight and into the next day. Officials evacuated homes in neighborhoods east and north of the school. Authorities found four bodies in the plane wreckage pending further identification and a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

Some Things To Consider:
  • Any incident is possible in regards to school preparedness. Who would ever imagine a small plane would crash into your school? Accident? Suicide or Attack? It is important to always ask yourself, "What If ...?" What would you do?
  • When wargaming for natural or man-made incidents affecting your school, it is all about preparedness / prevention, NOT PARANOIA. (Al Qaeda attacking your school is considerably less likely than a disgruntled parent coming to take their child from school during a custody battle.)
  • How many Fire departments (full time, volunteer, or combination of both) are prepared for a no-notice aviation (small or large plane or helo) crash in a residential area, let alone a school?
  • Had that plane crash occurred during a school day, what would the School Evacuation, Mass Casualty, and Student Reunification Plan be????
    • How would you conduct student and employee accountability?
  • School Facility Recovery Phase: Post Fire Cleanup, School Facility Damage (Fire, Smoke, Water, Structural) Assessment, NSTB Investigation Scene, Insurance Investigation, Possible Crime Scene Site?, Post Incident Facility Safety and Security considerations.
  • School COOP (Continuity of Operations):
    • Were there summer classes or events scheduled? 
    • What school critical functions have been affected by the plane crash?
    • What is the level of damage to these school critical functions?
    • How and When will these damages be fixed? 
    • Will this timeline conflict with the full or partial opening of the school's opening?

Offensive Game Played by California High School Students Stopped

(June 2010)  Seven seniors in Los Angeles' La Quinta High School  are facing disciplinary action (school suspension, barred from graduation, etc.) for participating in an offensive game called "Beat The Jew". The game was promoted online attracting 40 students. The participating students role played either Nazis (as victimizers) or Jews (as victims). The victims were blindfolded and dropped off at locations to find their way back to school. Victim role players were subjected to either "incineration" or "enslavement". Once discovered this offensive game was mentioned in a press release by the assistant superintendent. Even if no one was physically injured, the game was inappropriate, offensive, tasteless, and discriminatory.

  • Are parents aware of what their kids are doing online, in school, or outside of school?  
  • Students need to be aware that any game which is disrespectful to a religion, culture, or group of people is wrong and can result in getting in trouble.
  • Any game which simulates violent acts or criminal activity will lead to trouble for students and could result in charges or disciplinary acts being dispensed on all students aiding, abetting, or acting in concert with these questionable activities.     

Response To Threatening Message at Nonnewaug High School

June 2010, in Woodbury CT at Nonnewaug High School a threatening message was found in a second floor boys restroom. The threat was written as on the side of a towel dispenser. There is often graffiti written in bathrooms and on school property that is offensive, gang related, and potentially violent in tone. It is important to insure that the writings are viewed and analyzed by someone. What differentiates immature or wanna-be comments from more serious comments or threats is that they are specific as to time or date, location, target, or method of violence (bomb or shoot).  The state police conducted a school search and ensured the police presence at the school during the period the threat was supposed to take place.

Final Comment: It is vital that students, custodians, and teachers know to forward any threatening types of information to school leadership immediately. You can't assume it is meaningless or be embarrassed to say something because it could save lives. Student leadership will notify the School Resource Officer (SRO) to have law enforcement investigate and act.

NJ High School Student Prank Results In Arrests

June 2010, seven New Jersey high school (Morris Knolls High School) boys who are minors were arrested for releasing a variety of animals and rodents in the school as part of their senior prank. They brought rabbits, mice, roosters, and chickens into the school and released them into the ceiling (tiles). The police were called after custodians saw unauthorized people in the school just before midnight. The students came into the school through an open window and the majority of animals were stolen from farms.

  • Unchecked Teenage Humor and Student Pranks often = criminal charges, loss of privilege to participate in graduation, expenses (damage repair, lawyer fees, court costs, restitution, etc.), and hazardous material clean up costs.  
  • Charges:
    • Breaking and Entering, Cruelty to Animals, Bringing Animals into School
  • Clean Up Costs:
    • IF animals are not recovered, they will die in the ceilings, overheads, and ventilation air ducts. The smell and flies will require recovery of the bodies.
    • Animal and Rodent fecal matter will also create an odor and a health risk.
    • Hazardous Cleanup Companies are required sue to union rules, OSHA, and health code requirements due to the medical risk involved.
Prevention: It is important that the Senior Year Class Advisors, Housemasters, Guidance Counselors, and the Principal get the word out from the beginning of the school year and up until graduation that certain behaviours will not be tolerated and that the consequences will be severe. If laws are broken then the police will be involved. Recommend that this is mentioned to parents and at PTO meetings, in an effort to "protect the kids" from their occassional poor judgement.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Off Campus Criminal Activity & Evidence Can Come into Schools: Need for SROs

There is an unfortunate story about a 16 yr old New Milford High School sophomore who is alleged to have broken into a 25 yr old woman's home, strangled her into unconsciousness, and then sexually assaulted her on Aug 6, 2009. This young man was also connected to other crimes involving  home break-ins. Items from the break-ins were found on this student's possession by his high school School Resource Officer (SRO). This young man will be tried as an adult and will be facing 40 years of incarceration.

Comment:  A school's student population is a microcosm of the society that it comes from. Criminal activity that ocurs in the community and the related criminal evidence can spill over into your school. Violence, drugs, weapons, gangs, domestic issues, child abuse, and other criminal activities can enter and occur in your school community. There is a distinct difference between having law enforcement come to your school versus having a School Resource Officer (SRO) permanently assigned to your school. A SRO builds the habitual relationships with the students and staff, understands the school's atmospherics and environmentals, and can enable on scene crime prevention and if required intervention immediately. SROs are trained in search and seizure, probable cause, and evidentiary control and procedures. Lastly, SROs are the only legally armed individual working in the school who possesses the means to use deadly force, if required, to protect innocent lives.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

School Pranks Gone Awry...The Time of Year for Student Bad Judgment

May 16, 2010

I recently read two news articles:


Incident: 20 Ohio high school students broke (breaking and entering) into the local high school and started ransacking (throwing books: destruction of private property) the school. Many were dressed in black and did this at night. The students were arrested and face felony charges. The students said it was "just a end of the year prank" and some of the parents said it is a tradition and police are blowing the situation out of proportion. School district plans disciplinary action.


Teenagers brought realistic looking pellet rifles into an elementary school on a Friday causing someone to call 911 resulting in a police response and arrests. 9 students were arrested (possessing dangerous weapons on school grounds) and 7 Airsoft Guns were confiscated. While no one was injured, the police received multiple calls about armed individuals at the school at 4 pm during a time where there were after school activities

Commentary on the Two Stories: Breaking into school and bringing anything that looks like a weapon (especially assault weapons) are not pranks or one of those "aw, kids will be kids" responses. For the Ohio students, they have been arrested and will probably be suspended, and those seniors will probably not graduate with their class. Nothing funny about that for the students and their parents, but well deserved. For the elementary students who brought replica (Airsoft) assault weapons into their school they are lucky they were not shot. The police were well withing their rights to call for an Active Shooter response to armed individuals in a school. This response is focused on all officers responding to immediately eliminate the threats since most school shooting are over in the first 5 to 10 minutes. School Shooting situations require an immediate and agressive tactical response to save innocent lives if possible. Had officers filled and flodded those hallways from multiple directions looking for multiple shooters and ran into a kid with an "assault rifle" pointing in their direction there could / would have been a lethal engagement resulting in a student's death. That is a closer call than many may realize, stupidity can kill just like complacency. A serious example needs to be set for those students.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sudden Dangerous Weather Puts High School Sports Events at Risk

Bad Weather can occur at any time. Remember lightening kills and if you can see it, it is in range to kill you. In Connecticut, each school is suppose to have a NOAA Emergency Weather Radio.

Questions to ask:
  • Does your school have these radios?
  • Where is the radio and Who monitors the radio?
  • Does someone monitor it after school when you have outdoor extracurricular activities?
  • What is the procedures for dangerous weather? Who makes the call? Who is notified?

On May 5, 2010 in Northwest Connecticut, a burst of violent weather generated winds and thunderstorms that severely impacted this region. Trees and power lines were knocked down and power was lost in many areas.  In New Hartford, heavy winds affected a high school (Lewis S. Mills H.S.) crew team event causing a number of crew boats to be blown beyond the team rescue boat. A few boats were capsized. The water temperature was cold so based on safety protocols, nine members were transported for a nearby hospital for hypothermia evaluation and released without incident.  Thomaston High School had to cancel a track and field meet due to these sudden bad weather which included high winds and lightning.

Sudden Dangerous Weather should be of an Incident Action Plan (IAP) within your school's Safety Plan.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cyber Bullied To Death: Megan Meier


Torrington Middle School Teacher and students invited Ms. Tina Meier to speak to their school about cyber-bullying. Ms. Meier is the mother of Megan Meier (a seventh grader) who committed suicide in 2006 after being cyber-bullied by a group of people who posed as a 16 year old boy on the social networking site, MySpace.  The virtual boy feigned interest in her for five weeks and then ended the virtual relationship, and then harassed her. In a few days of cyber harassment, she hung herself in her closet. This was one of the first publicized cases of cyber-bullying.  This also raises the issue of how strongly influencial social networking sites can be on children before they come of a mature enough age.

Tip: Parents can monitor these sites, but not the instant messaging features on those sites. 

Keeping Our Students Safe: Safe Driving Presentations



Recently Torrington High School sponsored a safety presentation for their students. The link is to a non-profit organization from Connecticut which conducts school presentations to increase student awareness in a preventative measure. Bob Green clarifies that there is not a car accident, but a crash! An accident don't just happen by accident, there is a reason for the crash where typically the driver is negligent by being distracted (cell phone use while driving, texting while driving, loud music, distractd by fellow kid passengers, etc.), or driving too fast for the weather, visibility, or for the driver's skill level. Driving too fast reduces the reaction time for a driver, especially an inexperienced driver. A simple thing like not having both hands on the wheel can cause a driver to not be able to manipulate the wheel to avaoid a crash. Car crashes occur mostly due to driver error.

As parents and educators teaching our kids to be safe on the roads is a lifelong skill.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Middle School Kids on Facebook...are you kidding me???

Our local newspaper ran a story, "Middle Schoolers report Facebook sex tape requests". I don't know how familiar you are with social networking sites such as FACEBOOK or MySpace, but you need to be.  It is 2010 and Web 2.0 technology is here to stay. Like any tool, the Social Networking Sites (SNS) are in and of themselves not bad, but it is HOW they can be misused and by WHOM which is the concern. An adult from a foreign country electronically entered the homes of dozens of middle school students because their parents knowingly or unknowingly left the VIRTUAL DOORS open to their kids safety. This perverted adult asked kids through Facebook (SNS) to film themselves doing inappropriate things and send it to him.
          It is my strong opinion that middle school kids should not be on social networking sites (SNS), and that high school students can be on social networking sites ONLY IF MONITORED by parents. After the age of 18, then they are adults but prior to that they need to be electronically supervised. For the high schooler, no access for parent = no access to SNS, period. (More on SNS on future blogs). Some topics for discussion:
  • This foreign adult attempted to contact over 100 middle school students both male and female.
  • He may have used a search engine based upon a story he saw in an online posting or newspaper article.
ON A POSITIVE NOTE:  This was reported after a cyber crime presentation was given a local group, Education Connection (from Litchfield, CT) at the middle school. The students reported it and an investigation was initiated. This is a great example of how education can be used to teach the vulnerabilities and associated responsibility that must be used in conjunction with the Internet to keep our children safe.

Video of Brother of Inskip Teacher Who Shot His Principal and Assistant Principal

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Discussion: School Buses and Seatbelts

NTSB Bus accidents and occupant protective systems video:

http://www.ntsb.gov/Events/1999/buscrash/details.htm link

After a Connecticut 17 yr old student was killed in a school bus crash in February 2010, there is great discussion to institute the use of seat belts on school buses. Some of the links on the video simulate what can ocur to passengers if they are unconstrained in a crash. Kid's bodies become missiles in a crash and the laws of physics apply. We require kids to have seat belts on in every other circumstance but a school bus...? The average cost to retrofit a bus with seatbelts is $15, 000 and installing them to a new bus is $ 1, 500. Annually there are 17,000 injuries to students from school bus accidents and six are killed a year. 

What do you think?

Recommended Book: A Young Girl's Perspective From Being Bullied

Recommended Book:
Please Stop Laughing at Me...One Woman's Inspirational Story by Jodee Blanco

As a male high school teacher, I was trying to gain some insights from a female perspective on the the high school experience and picked up this (NY Time Bestseller) book. It was extremely enlightening on the topic of bullying especially from the perspective of the author as a young girl in middle school and high school. She does an excellent job of describing the experience of emotional cruelty that can ocur in our school if we are unaware and not in tune with our students, and most importantly take a "kids will be kids" approach to bullying. This young girl was highly intelligent and came from a great set of parents whose adult philosophy of "ignore these small minded" or "show them how strong you are by ignoring them" kids is not a successful approach with kids. IF VICTIMIZED, YOU HAVE TO EMPOWER YOUR CHILD TO RESIST AND PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR PRIDE. She is an accomplished adult but the book is written from her perspective as a young girl. THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ AND WILL SHOCK YOU.
  • Bullies can destroy your self-worth and cause you to hate yourself 
  • A bullied child effects the entire family
  • Biggest problem with school bullying is mass denial
  • Kids intentionally academically underperforming to not be labeled.
  • Bullies never remember, and victims never forget
  • Kids taking a Bully or Be Bullied Approach (Kid Cycle of Social Survival)
    • Don't align with other victims because they are glad it isn't them
  • A student standing up and doing the right thing as a kid in a school environment where the adults don't reinforce (as a social teaching moment) and actively support this behavior can be disasterous. 
    • Sometimes the issue becomes Teen Popularity NOW vs Adult Character LATER 
  • Unsupervised slumber parties or mixed gender parties without proper parental supervision can have disasterous and life-altering consequences for kids
  • Transferring schools or even moving does not fix the bullying problem for the victim
  • Parents considering their child a misfit that doesn't fit in or referring them (the victim) to a psychologist, can distract adults away from the source of the problem (the bullies). 
    • Why doesn't anyone consider THE BULLY going to see a psychologist or couseling?
  • The importance the "network" of adults play in our child's development process and sense of security (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school nurse, librarians, school security not just teachers, housemasters, guidance counselors, and principals)
  • Social proximity and density in a classroom (who sits next to who and how close, small group activities, same or mixed gender) can increase or decrease issues, but not solve the problem.
  • As an adult, knowing how to talk to a kid and make them feel comfortable and safe enough to tell you WHAT and / or WHO is bothering them is a critical teaching skill.
  • Bully vicims develop a misplaced sense of justice or gratitude ("thanks for not teasing me or for ignoring me...I understand why you can't talk to me.") or normalcy (I get picked on everyday)
  • Physical attacks, improper touching, damage to property in the guise of bullying or "just kidding around" need to be identified and treated as CRIMES or violations of school property. Administrators can enable bullying if proper consequences are not dealt to students violating anti-bullying policies. (If I punish these students they will make it even worse for you...)
    • End result is confiding in adults = more bullying and pain
  • Truancy and absentee-ism can become a safety net (I can't be bullied if I am not in school or do not go to that class)
  • Parents, if your child is victimized don't let physical assaults get "watered down" involve the school resource officer or police, and if substantiated PRESS CHARGES!!! The bully (s) will be emboldened if you don't and it sends a message to the school body that this will not be tolerated. It adds teeth to the school policies.  
    Read this book it will increase your level of awareness of the frailty and social challenges facing teenagers and how you the adult (parent, teacher, administrator, etc) can play a more effective role in ensuring that what happend to Jodee would not happen in your school or family. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Middle School Fight on School Bus Results in a Box Cutter Slashing

FIGHT ON SCHOOL BUS = 1 arrest, 3 suspensions, 1 injured (slashes to face & hand), and 1 school relocation

On March 17, 2010 in Waterbury, Connecticut a fight between two 14 yr old boys from North End Middle School on a school bus resulted in one boy slashing abother boy who started a fight with him. The boy who started the fight received seven stitiches to the face and six stitches to one of his hands.The fight stemmed from a previous dispute. Both boys were arrested and suspended from school. the boy with the box cutter is now placed in an "alternative education setting outside of the public schools. " A girl on the bus was also suspended for trying to hide the box cutter after the fight. (Source: Republican -American newspaper).

Points for Discussion:
  • How aware are teachers and school staff (administrators, guidance counselors, security, secretaries, food service staff, etc) of student conflicts? Regardless of how insignificant a conflict between students appears or where it originates (outside of school), it can have an impact in the school environment or school activities. 
  • Students carry weapons when they are afraid, feel threatened, plan to commit criminal activity, feel the need to imtimidate, mentally unstable, and plan to injure of kill others.
  • How comfortable do students feel reporting problems or conflicts to the adults in your school building? This is critical to developing preventive or interventive measures to stop students from hurting one another or themselves. 
  • Every member of the school staff and teachers needs to actively and openly promote that students need to immediately report threats of or acts of physical altercations, intimidation, bullying, or criminal activity. Countering the child-like or criminal mindset of "Stop Snitching" needs to be addressed as a dysfunctional philosophy which only protects criminals and bullies and has no place in the adult world they hope to join someday. This priming is essential to teaching them to advocate for themself and feel empowered vice be victims.
  • Physical Altercations, Weapons, and Bullying (Intimidation) need to be addressed severely to send the message that this will not be tolerated in a school environment, school activities, or society at large.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gun Threat on Campus and Security Negligent Firearm Discharge

Oklahoma Community College campus shut but no gunman found. Campus security officer accidentally fires weapon during search

Feb 26, 2010: OKLAHOMA CITY - Police ordered everyone off the campus at Oklahoma City Community College after a report that someone on campus had a gun. Authorities later said there was no gunman but that a campus security officer accidentally fired his weapon during a search. Oklahoma City Police Lt. Patrick Stewart said Friday that authorities searched several sites on campus where people had reported seeing a gunman, but didn't turn up anything. He said that included the library. Stewart said later that a campus security officer accidentally fired his gun as the library was being evacuated. Police spokesman Sgt. Gary Knight said no injuries were reported. The school said the campus would be closed for the rest of the day.


Emergency Reporting Procedures: What are the reporting procedures for threats in your educational institution? The right answer is calling 911, then campus security, and then campus leadership.

First Responder Training and Sustainment: What are there capabilities based upon their initial level of training and periodic sustainment training for the first responders in your educational institution?
  • Security / Law Enforcement: For an armed security individual to have fired their weapon during a search without a threat to them is unacceptable and negligent. There is no such thing as an accidental discharge of a weapon, it is a negligent discharge. Tactically sound and safe weapons handling procedures must be a given through sustainment training, period.
  • Medical Personnel: Are the medical personnel at your institution capable, current, and equipped to stabilize an injured individual? The school nurse whose medical experience is handing out an ice pack and a band-aid may not be counted upon in a crisis. Response time of EMS?
  • Fire: What are the capabilities of your local fire service? Full Time? Volunteer? Trained as paramedics? Fire suppression or HazMat, or both?
Education Leaders need to have an idea of what actual capabilities first responders bring to an incident vice their assumed capabilities.

Monday, March 15, 2010

School Preparedness Drills and Exercises Video

Here is a school preparedness video titled YES-TV: Emergency Preparedness at Mountian View High School. This is an outstanding video which highlights the school preparedness network (students, school faculty and administration, school district, first responders: police, fire, medical) in action transitioning from static paper-based plans towards dynamic capability based training complete with an assessment at all levels to capture observations, lessons learned, and issues requiring future resolution. This video also touches on the importance of establishing Incident Command Posts (ICP) at all levels and the criticality of communications (assets, training, availability) in order to maintain command and control of an incident at all levels to leverage the capability of the entire school preparedness network.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Talking with Children About Disaster, Terrorism, and Death

National Center for Children Exposed to Violence: This organization provides free resources for parents, teachers to speak to children about disaster, war, terrorism, and death.

Link: http://www.nccev.org/resources/publications.html

Go to the above link and receive the following Free Resources listed below:

Helping Children in the Wake of Disaster - Professional pdf

Helping Children in the Wake of Disaster - Parents pdf

Parent’s Guide to Talking to their Children About War pdf

Guía para Padres, para hablar con sus hijos acerca de la Guerra pdf

Teachers' Guide for Talking with their Students about War pdf

In the Aftermath of Terrorism: A Summary pdf

Parent's Guide for Talking with their Children pdf

Guía para Padres para hablar con sus hijos pdf

Teachers' Guide for Talking with their Students

School Administrators' Guide for Talking to their Students and Staff pdf

Parent's Guide to Talking with Children about Death pdf

Responding to Children about Anthrax pdf

Baker, L. L., Jaffe, P. G., Berkowitz, S. J., & Berkman, M. (2002). Children exposed to violence: a handbook for police trainers to increase understanding and improve community responses. London, Ontario, Canada: Centre for children and families in the justice system of the London family court clinic, Inc. pdf

Elementary Special Ed Teacher Killed by a Stalker on School Grounds

Shooting At a School or Workplace Violence: Elementary Special Ed Teacher Killed By Stalker

When does an external threat against a school employee become a threat to the safety of the school community?

Incident. On Feb 26 at 0735 am, Jennifer Paulson, a 30 year old female special education teacher, was shot and killed as she was entering Birney Elementary School before students arrived. (The school has about 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade and is located in Pierce County in Tacoma Washington.) Jed Waits, the shooter, was waiting for her at school and shot her multiple times near the school’s front entrance and then fled by car. She died immediately and a custodian initiated a call to 911 with a description of the gunman’s car. A deputy pulled the gunman aside 10 miles from school in a parking lot near a daycare center. Jed Waits came out of the car firing and was shot dead. School official diverted inbound school busses to another location and cancelled school for the day (Friday) as a large number of police and ambulances responded to the school.

Background. Jed Waits knew Miss Paulson (his victim) since college where they worked together in the college cafeteria. He had recently been released after being arrested for violating a protective order. In 2008, Waits had showed up and entered the school as an unapproved visitor and had also sent unwarranted gifts to her at school. The Principal contacted Wait’s National Guard Commander to inform him of the harassment. Waits received a less than honorable discharge in April 2009 from the Wash Army National Guard due to a pattern of misconduct. An anti-harassment order was issued which Wait’s violated by coming within 1000 ft of her home which resulted in his arrest. Classes were also cancelled for Monday as well including a memorial ceremony at the scene of the shooting. School district spokesman Dan Voelpel said Paulson worked in the language resource center helping students one-on-one with reading problems. She had been with the district since 2004 and at the school since 2007. Paulson's death "knocked everyone flat," Voelpel said. "It's going to hit this community hard."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

School Preparedness and the Emergency Management Process

Fundamental to a school community developing a culture of preparedness is the understanding the Emergency Management Process to provide a template for planning, preparation, and execution. This process is a cycle in which steps don’t only happen sequentially, but can happen simultaneously as well. The phases of this process (Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery) provide a holistic framework for a school preparedness network.

MITIGATION / PREVENTION: actions that can prevent, alleviate, or diminish the potential effects of all-hazard situations on a school community.
  • School Mitigation examples: school all-hazard surveys; school district / school preparedness working groups and committees; public education; grant / budget and resource allocations; crime prevention design (CPTED) and disaster-resistant construction; public information programs; hazard-reduction programs; and incident planning, etc.
PREPAREDNESS: actions that enhance school and community emergency response capabilities for all-hazards.
  • School Preparedness examples: Incident Command System (ICS), District and School Emergency Operation Plans (EOP); All-Hazard Incident Action Plans (IAPs) with associated public affairs guidance; FEMA education and training; and HSEEP (Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program) drills and exercises.
RESPONSE: time-sensitive actions to save lives and property, reduce the possibility of secondary damage, and speed recovery operations for the school community.
  • School Response examples: Mobilizing emergency response personnel and equipment; accountability of personnel; conduct search and rescue; alerting the public; school evacuation and student reunification; mass casualty treatment and tracking, etc.
RECOVERY: actions that restore the school community to pre-incident conditions and status.
  • School Recovery examples: facility inspection and damage assessment; crime scene processing; crime scene bio-hazard clean-up; crisis counseling; memorial services; long-term medical assistance; reconstruction; post-incident investigation and litigation; rehabilitation; school continuity of operations (resiliency); etc.