Saturday, March 27, 2010

Discussion: School Buses and Seatbelts

NTSB Bus accidents and occupant protective systems video: 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.


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.