In an ideal world, one would like to prevent all school crime and ensure the safety of each staff member and student. The reality is so many things are outside the control of the school district that such a task is virtually impossible. To attempt to predict the disruptive behavior of a student, a staff member, the effects of weather, an intruder, or a terrorist is unrealistic. However, armed with the knowledge that this could happen, the astute school district and school community leaders can take actions to prepare for a crisis, avoid a crisis, preclude successive crises, and now, equally important, to lead the healing process following a crisis.
No greater challenge exists today than creating safe schools or restoring schools to tranquil and safe places of learning. The challenge requires a major strategic commitment and involves placing school safety at the top of the educational agenda. Without safe schools, teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn. A safe school is foundational to the success of the academic mission.
Safe school planning is all about the “art of the possible.” It is not limited to special restraints or a set of guidelines. Each school community has the opportunity to shape the school climate it wishes to create. A safe school plan, more than anything else, is a function of the community will, priorities and interests. It requires partnerships and cooperation. The components and the players are limited only by the creativity, energy, and commitment of the local community. Crucial players include students, educators, parents, emergency first responders, mental health leaders, and youth-serving professionals.
A safe school is in place when students can learn and teachers can teach in a welcoming environment, free of intimidation and fear. It is a setting where the educational climate fosters a spirit of acceptance and care for all students; where behavior expectations are clearly communicated, consistently enforced, and fairly applied. A safe school is also one that is prepared to respond to the unthinkable crisis.
(Safe School Planning: The Art of the Possible, October 3rd, 2012 by gcckc , by Ronald D. Stephens, NSSC Executive Director)
Exercises and drills conducted by the Sioux Falls School District follow the Safe Schools Program for the purpose of ensuring a safe and secure environment for students, teachers, and all who enter school grounds in the District.
The Sioux Falls School District takes proactive measures to protect the safety and security of all students and staff members. All schools in the District are required to have a school safety and security plan. Each plan must be designed locally with the help of law enforcement, emergency management, public health officials, and all other key stakeholders. All plans must be reviewed and updated on an annual basis. These plans include procedures to respond to critical incidents ranging from bomb threats, fires and gas leaks, to an active shooter situation. Training students and staff is a key component of ensuring a safe and secure school environment.
Faculty, Staff, Students, Parents, and Guardians are essential participants in Sioux Falls School District Safe and Secure planning. "If You See Something, Say Something™." Call 844-3SD-SAFE or (844) 373-7233.
"If You See Something, Say Something™" is a national campaign that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement.
Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. This includes, but is not limited to:
Some of these activities could be innocent—it's up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation. The activities above are not all-inclusive but have been compiled based on studies of pre-operational aspects of both successful and thwarted terrorist events over several years.
If you aren't sure that what you saw or heard is really a crime, call anyway. Let the police decide if it's worth investigating.
If there is an emergency, call 9-1-1.
During an emergency, or threat of emergency, school officials and law enforcement take specific, planned steps to keep students and staff safe. Emergency plans are confidential in order to ensure that they are not compromised. But what can parents and others in the community expect?
We understand that parents and guardians may wish to take their children out of school during these times. Unfortunately, parents' desire to take their children may create situations that further complicate an emergency.
If you choose to come to school during an emergency, you will not have the kind of access to the school and your child to which you are accustomed. The following information is important:
During a crisis, our district puts a priority on providing accurate, timely information as it becomes available. We will coordinate any release of information with law enforcement. However, it will not contain all the details of the incident and updates may not be frequent as district officials' priority will be ensuring the safety of the staff and children. To get information, you should monitor the school and district web site and the district smartphone application. The telephone line capacity is limited. Telephone access may not be possible.
All visitors are expected and directed to report their presence to the school office immediately upon entering a school facility. They are required to sign a visitor logbook, to state the reason for their visit, and receive a visitor’s badge that will be worn and prominently displayed while in the building. The visitor’s badge must be one of the following types:
Visitors without a current driver’s license or state ID may be vouched for by a school administrator if known, vouched for by a parent or authorized guardian, and must sign-in giving the current address of residency.
Visitor access may be denied at the discretion of a school administrator.
Volunteers who have been issued access cards must notify the office they are in the building and when they are leaving the building.
Persons registered on the National Sex Offender Registry and those having been served with visitation restrictions must notify the administration 24 hours in advance for visitation approval at all school facilities and functions.
The visitor procedures may apply when visitors are attending an assembly, athletic event, or other school programs in areas typically recognized for large group assembly of the community, such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, etc., or when parents are attending activities clearly for the purpose of parent involvement, such as an open house or parent-teacher conferences.
During the school year, contractors working in schools must display a district-issued ID badge or be confirmed by operational services and are required to check-in through the school office.
Working together as a community we will ensure a Safe and Secure learning environment for our children.