COMPREHENSIVE SAFE SCHOOLS PLANNING GUIDE
The 2002 Legislature, in Senate Bill 5543 (SB 5543), required schools to develop
comprehensive safe schools plans and to provide the Office of Superintendent of
Public Instruction (OSPI) information on the status of their plan. This information
will be collected on the Web as part of the 2002–03 Weapons in Schools Report,
which will be due to OSPI by June 30, 2003. Schools will be receiving the
password and user name information for the annual Weapons in Schools Report
prior to June 1, 2003.
SB 5543 also required OSPI to develop tools for schools to use as they assess
current programs and practices that contribute to comprehensive safe schools
planning. In response to this requirement, OSPI has developed several tools for
schools to use as they assess current efforts and identify their needs specific to
prevention, intervention, all-hazards/crisis response, and post-crisis recovery.
Available for your use on the Washington State School Safety Center Web site at
www.k12.wa.us/safetycenter/ are the following:
1. Comprehensive Safe Schools Planning Guide: The following guide
provides information and guidance for schools in a question and answer
format regarding prevention, intervention, all-hazards/crisis response, and
2. Comprehensive Safe Schools Checklist: provides schools a rubric to
evaluate current efforts and identify needs based on current planning.
3. Comprehensive Safe Schools Planning Continuum: provides an "at a
glance" look at different components of a comprehensive safe schools
plan that includes prevention/intervention, all-hazards/crisis response, and
4. It’s Our School, Some Practical Tools for School Safety: includes
information on harassment prevention, search and seizure, record
sharing, all-hazards planning guide provided by the Washington State
Emergency Management Division, Early Warning, Timely Response; a
Guide to Safe Schools: The Referenced Edition, provided by the United
States Department of Education.
5. Crisis Response Box: Information and checklist of resources for a critical
COMPREHENSIVE SAFE SCHOOLS PLAN
What is a Comprehensive Safe Schools Plan (CSSP)?
It is a plan that incorporates all significant elements of school operation,
• Curriculum and instruction.
• Policies and procedures.
• Physical plant assessment.
• Staff development (certificated and noncertificated).
• Student involvement.
• Parent involvement.
• Community involvement and partnerships.
• Community agency involvement and partnerships.
• Supportive learning environment.
This plan emphasizes activities that promote a safe, civil, and healthy learning
environment for students, school staff, and community. This plan is integral to the
school improvement planning process (SIP) that schools are currently involved
What is the purpose of the CSSP?
The purpose is to assist schools in evaluating their current efforts in
comprehensive safe schools planning.
Why is this type of planning important?
Research has shown that for students to achieve academically, they must have a
supportive learning environment that is safe, civil, and healthy. OSPI staff
reviewed the literature and research available that identifies qualities necessary
for successful schools and found a direct linkage between academic success and
supportive learning environments, and parent and community involvement.
The Learning First Alliance produced Every Child Learning: Safe and Supportive
Schools, which is available from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development (ASCD). The document connects the importance of a supportive
learning environment and academic achievement. A synopsis of this publication
Summary of Every Child Learning: Safe and Supportive Schools
A Supportive Learning Community
• A challenging and engaging curriculum for all students.
- Students find purpose in their learning.
- Schools organized around students and their work.
- Staff encourages and supports student performance.
- Teachers hold high expectations for ALL students.
- Recognition that students learn in many different ways.
- The wider community is an important part of the learning
• Respectful, supportive relationships among and between students, school
staff, and families.
- Students are comfortable bringing their diverse backgrounds into
- Family members feel valued and welcome in the school.
- Supportive relationship among educators improves teaching skills,
collegiality, and collective responsibility.
- Ensure that students are well known by one or more teachers and
other school adults.
- School staff have community partners to provide social and health
• Frequent opportunities for student participation, collaboration, service, and
- Students and staff collaborate and reflect on interactions, listen
carefully, and disagree respectfully.
- Students and staff take responsibility individually and in groups.
- Students help define school goals and plan activities.
- Opportunities for participation and service extend beyond the
• A physical plant that promotes safety and community.
- A well-maintained facility demonstrates care and respect.
- Free of toxic conditions which harm health and learning.
- Safety, community, and learning are part of building design.
Systematic Approaches to Supporting Safety and Positive Behavior
• Schoolwide approaches to improving school climate.
- Clear, simple, positive messages about student behavior and how
to be successful and contributing school members.
- Rules are revisited and revised.
- An atmosphere of civility and order are the norm in every part of
school—classrooms, halls, cafeteria, playground, and restrooms.
- Rules and expectations are enforced or articulated fairly and
- Families and students participate in establishing rules and
- There is a system for introducing norms and culture to new
students and staff.
• Orderly and focused classrooms.
- Order and focus are key to improved student learning.
- Students’ emerging ability to manage themselves is nurtured.
- Teachers establish daily routines for seating, traffic patterns, and
consequences of misbehavior.
- Students are engaged in problem solving.
- Appropriate behavior is celebrated and recognized.
• A continuum of supports for those students who need them.
- About 15 percent of students need moderate extra support; 5
percent need intensive support or alternate placement.
- Interventions are continuously monitored.
- Persistent misbehavior may be a sign of academic stress.
- Particular groups are not disproportionately disciplined.
- School has a system of early identification, appropriate early
intervention, and intervention for troubled or violent youth.
Involvement of Families, Students, School Staff, and Community
• School encourages and supports involvement.
-Activities consider work and family schedules.
-Opportunities for parents to learn how they can help children.
-Staff demonstrates care and nurturing of children.
-Parents assist in defining and maintaining discipline and behavior
• Teachers and staff are trained in family relations and involvement.
- School staff put families at ease.
- Educators focus on student strengths.
• School is a community center or focal point.
- External resources are brought together.
- Before- and after-school activities are coordinated with student
- Community and service learning opportunities are linked.
What is prevention?
Prevention is defined as: Actions designed to ward off, delay, or minimize the
likelihood of a foreseeable negative outcome. One form of prevention is referred
to as ‘”universal”, wherein programs are directed toward the general population.
Examples of universal prevention include use of schoolwide discipline systems
that have been shown through scientific studies and experience to enhance the
likelihood of behavioral compliance with school rules while simultaneously
promoting academic achievement.
Another form of prevention is referred to as “selective” or “targeted,” wherein
services focus on specific individuals or groups that are known to be at higher
risk than the general population for specific problems. In a school, this typically
involves the use of curricula that promotes behaviors consistent with safe, civil,
and healthy schools, including programs that emphasize the teaching of
psychosocial coping skills that offset risk factors.
For natural disasters or unintentional injury issues, efforts include assessment of
the elements of the physical plant; campus and security protocols to maintain
order and control of school property; and maintenance of civil conduct of
students and personnel in the school. This typically involves building safety
standards (e.g., Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act [WISHA]
standards); access to basic first aid; emergency response policies and
procedures addressing natural disasters; and coordination of all safety plans with
plant maintenance, transportation, and other staff as appropriate.
For human-caused or intentional crises, methods of assessment, prevention, and
intervention with students who may be at risk for escalation of violence are
included in this category. Such methods include, but are not limited to, policies
and practices that support identification of warning signs of potentially violent
youth or others in the school environment, interpersonal conflict management
methods, and referral to research-based safety and prevention programs.
What are some of the prevention activities that should be in the
Curriculum and instruction that include skills training and are supported by
research can be located at the following websites:
• US Department of Education: www.ed.gov/offices/OERI
• National Institute On Drug Abuse: www.nida.nih.gov
• Center for Substance Abuse Prevention:
• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
• National Center for Advancement of Prevention: www.preventiondss.org
• Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Control Prevention:
• Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov
• Western Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies:
Policies and procedures that are clearly articulated, consistently enforced,
and aligned with district and school rules. Areas include:
• Harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
• Sexual harassment.
• Gun-free/weapons policies.
Enforcement of policies should include links with local social services, community
resources, and law enforcement and be coordinated with school security.
Student involvement and leadership opportunities:
• Peer/conflict mediators.
• Natural Helpers.
• Student accountability boards.
• Peer helpers.
• Clubs and other organizations.
• Cross-age mentoring/tutoring programs.
• Policy development.
• Before-and after-school activities.
• Search and Rescue.
Parent involvement :
• Parenting skills classes.
• Drug, alcohol, and violence prevention training.
• Volunteer opportunities.
• Outreach to inform parents how to access school and community
• Policy development.
Physical Plant Assessment that includes:
• Placement of required signage.
- Gun-free/weapons-free zone.
- Tobacco-free zone.
- Drug-free zone
• Placement of trees/shrubs surrounding school facilities.
• Security lighting.
• Security cameras.
• Hallway mirrors.
• Locker placement.
• Door locks.
• Congregating areas.
• Portable classroom placement.
• Street access.
• Chemistry labs/chemical storage areas.
• Bus loading/unloading areas.
• Entrance and egress to schools.
• Cleanliness of facilities.
• Maintenance of facilities.
Community Involvement and partnerships:
• Volunteer opportunities.
• Policy development.
• Evening programs such as community school or community theatre.
• Work opportunities.
• Community agency partnerships.
- Local fire department.
- Local law enforcement.
- Local emergency management.
• Social services partnerships.
- Victim's assistance programs.
- Mental health.
- Juvenile justice.
- Juvenile detention.
- Youth treatment agencies.
- Medical services
- Health and human services.
Staff Development opportunities:
• Information on school climate.
• The relationship between supportive learning environments and academic
• Harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention and intervention.
• Issues of poverty.
• Tobacco, alcohol, and other drug prevention and intervention.
• Violence prevention and intervention.
• Comprehensive safe schools plan development.
• Crisis plan development, implementation, and drill.
• Safety and security policies and procedures.
• Bus/transportation safety.
• The linkage of CSSP and school improvement planning.
• Diversity training.
• Policy and procedure development and updates.
What is Intervention?
Intervention is actions designed to intercept and redirect negative outcomes to
address early onset of problems, promoting the likelihood of either a more
positive outcome, a less negative outcome, or a combination thereof. Methods
include assessment and referral of at-risk youth to security and health care
professionals and research-based safety and violence prevention programs.
Why should you be concerned with intervention?
Schools have a significant role to play in the development of children and youth.
Research has shown that adults play an important role in the development of the
beliefs and attitudes of children. Bonding with an adult significantly reduces a
child’s risk for academic failure, drug use, violent behavior, teen pregnancy, and
other high-risk behaviors. (Hawkins and Catalano research on risk and protective
factors.) Providing skills to students, giving them opportunities to practice and
use those skills in a constructive way, and recognizing them for their success,
significantly increases the probability that the child will be a successful and
Adult intervention in risk behaviors for students provides an opportunity for
students to learn about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. For instance, a
student may be verbally harassing another student and the teacher overhears it.
When the teacher intervenes appropriately, it teaches the student acceptable
behaviors and also provides an opportunity for the teacher to reinforce the need
for acceptable behaviors. Security personnel not only help provide safety to
school grounds, they are also another conduit of information to administrators.
Schools should survey staff, students, parents, and community members
regularly to determine what the needs and concerns are, and the effectiveness of
programs and services.
Examples of intervention services and programs include:
• Support for students.
• Support for staff.
• School security personnel.
• Academic alternatives.
What types of intervention services or programs are already in place
for students and staff?
Support for Students:
• Student assistance programs.
• CARE/CORE teams.
• Intervention specialists.
• School counselors.
• School psychologists.
• School social workers.
• Multidisciplinary teams.
• School nurse.
• Teacher assistants/aides.
Support for Staff:
• Employee assistance programs.
• Teacher assistants/aides.
School Security Personnel:
• School resource officers.
• Security personnel.
• Playground assistants.
• Lunchroom assistants.
• Bus loading/unloading monitors.
• Alternative education programs.
• In-school suspension.
• Alternative placements.
ALL- HAZARDS/CRISIS RESPONSE
What is all- hazards/crisis response?
It is reaction to a serious, potentially life-threatening situation to ensure the safety
and security of those affected. This includes knowledge and practice of policies
and procedures relating to emergencies, including fire, earthquake, violence,
intruders, weapon possession, threats to individuals or to a school, and
coordination with local emergency response agencies. Methods employed often
require the use of the Incident Command System (or unified command system),
where multiple responding agencies have one commonly understood decision-
making chain of command. Model checklists such as the Crisis Response Box
and , an all-hazard planning guide provided by the Washington State Emergency
Management Division located on the Washington State School Safety Center
What is an all- hazards/crisis response plan?
An all-hazards/crisis response plan is a plan that schools have in place to deal
with human and natural disasters.
What constitutes a crisis?
It is an emotionally significant event that may directly or indirectly involve
students, staff, parents, and students. Some examples include:
• Student death or accident during school, over a weekend, or during a
• Staff death or accident.
• School bus incident.
• Community event.
• Natural disaster.
What constitutes a human crisis?
This could be an injury or death of a student or staff, family, or community
member. It can also include an intruder on campus, release of a toxic substance,
or a violent incident.
What constitutes a natural disaster?
A natural disaster may include an earthquake, fire, flood, or explosion.
Crisis Planning—Do you have?
• Incident Command System in place?
• Have you done a vulnerability assessment?
• What community partnerships do you have in place with local:
- Emergency management services.
- Emergency medical.
- Mental health.
- Victim's assistance programs.
- Health department.
What is the role of the district?
Districts must respond responsibly and appropriately.
What kind of response should districts provide?
Districts need to both be given and develop tools unique to their own needs
including practice drills to enable appropriate responses.
What kind of plans should districts have?
Districts should have separate safety and security plans. The plan that deals with
workplace safety should align with OSHA and WISHA standards. The other plan
should specifically address what to do in a crisis situation.
What should the district plans look like?
Each district’s unified system of response allows each individual school or site to
develop an individual response within a standard framework, like those found in
the Toolkit for Educators, and Crisis Response Box.
Should each building have its own emergency plan? What about the
role of the district?
Each building needs its own plan. However, the district office should have a plan
that deals with the overall management of a crisis situation.
What kinds of policies and procedures should be in place in the
event of different types of crises?
School districts should have three types of procedures in place for different types
• Student/staff remain in building/before, during, or after school.
• Students/staff evacuation/before, during, or after school.
• Plan for return of students and staff if an event should occur during
vacation, weekend, etc.
What are the essentials of a crisis plan? (A more detailed list is
found in the Crisis Response Box and Toolkit for Educators;
Comprehensive All- Hazards Planning Guide)
• Determine the district and building management team.
- Team members should be familiar with the district/building.
- Team members have the skills and knowledge to respond
- Certain jobs need cross training in case the person “in the know” is
n How to shut off the emergency alarm system.
H How to turn off the ventilation system.
H Who to call at the district office to implement the Incident
C Which emergency unit is called first.
Who should be involved in the writing and updating of the building
and district plan?
• It is important that building administrators involve representatives from the
different groups that exist within a building, e.g.:
- Teacher aides.
- Cafeteria personnel.
- Security personnel.
- Playground supervisors/assistants.
- Hallway monitors.
- Maintenance staff.
- Local emergency personnel.
- School Nurse.
- School support staff.
- Crossing guards.
- Bus drivers.
- Public information officers.
What should the written crisis plan include?
• A narrative explanation of roles and responsibilities.
• KEEP IT SIMPLE AND EASY TO REMEMBER! It should be easy to use.
• List the responsibilities of staff.
• Staff should not have any more than one to five tasks, depending on the
job of the personnel and these should be clearly identified.
• Identification of a "buddy" school where the children would be transported
Have you coordinated with other agencies for emergency supplies?
• Blankets—Red Cross.
• Other emergency responders.
Do you have a communication system that will allow you to contact
staff in an emergency? Do you have a system that will work when
the phones and cell phones are inoperable?
• How will you communicate with staff during the day, night, weekend, and
• Have you determined a system for both students and parents that
determines what information to share and what is the best mode of
• Have you worked with the media to determine what information will be
shared with them that will, in turn, be shared with the community?
- You may want to involve the media in your planning so that they
understand their role and what information they should make
- You may want to use the local news bureau to establish a specific
e E-mail address.
E Phone number.
- You may want to investigate what emergency communication
systems are available in your area. Note: During the earthquake,
many land lines and cellular phones were virtually inoperable
because lines were down or impacted by heavy use.
Do you have designated staging areas?
• You may want to have two separate staging areas in case one is impacted
by the crisis. You may also want to have them in two separate directions
from the building in case one is not accessible.
• You need to identify staging areas for parents to pick up their children.
• You will also need to identify a location for the media to congregate so that
they don’t get in the way or inappropriately interview students/staff.
• You also need a medical staging area.
What about a medical triage area?
• You will want to work directly with your local emergency responders on
• They will have their own plan, however, it needs to be coordinated with
Do you have a separate plan for transportation or a transportation-
• There should be a transportation plan in place for each school,
coordinated with the overall district plan.
• The drivers should also be part of the district contact list for emergencies.
• They should also be involved in the planning and drills.
• They will be responsible, in some cases, to transport students and staff to
either the staging areas or the “buddy” schools.
• You may want a contingency plan in place in case vehicle transportation is
• You also need to have a plan in case of an incident or accident on school-
What about children with special needs?
• You need to have a plan in place for evacuating and transporting these
students. In some cases, you may need to leave them where they are with
an adult supervisor.
• You also need to have an identified medical person that can assist with
• You need to make sure that any medication for these children stays with
• You also need to plan for those children that may be diabetic or have
other conditions that require medication and may be exacerbated by the
stress of the crisis situation.
What about children that need medications?
• An extra set of medications should be in a locked box with a designated
person (and a back-up person that knows where they are and how to
administer them) to bring them to the appropriate area in case of
• Let parents know that you need a back-up set of medications for the
building emergency kit.
How can teachers/staff have ready access to roll sheets, etc?
• Some schools have duplicate roll sheets that teachers hang on a clipboard
by their door each period or day. That way they have an accurate
accounting for each class during the day.
• Teachers/staff must make sure that they can account for each student,
especially if students have gone to the library, another room, etc.
• Each clipboard should have a set of 8 x 11 red and green sheets so that
teachers can hold them up once they have taken roll, this indicates
whether all students are present and accounted for (green) or students are
• Provide extra red and green sheets for use during drills.
• This makes an easy visual accounting system for children and staff.
• If an emergency occurs and there is an activity that has children away
from the school, such as a field trip, athletic event, etc., call the school
where the activity is and let them know that they need to inform the adult
supervisors about the emergency.
• Some schools have signs with each teacher’s name on it to hold up so the
children know exactly where to stand.
• It is important that staff remain on campus and in charge of their own
emotions at this time. They are models for students.
• Consider other contingencies for other areas of the school, such as the
pool, locker room, etc., making sure students have access to shoes,
What about guests? Sign- in procedures.
• It is important that the front office staff know who is on campus during a
given day, especially if an emergency occurs.
• This is especially true for substitute teachers, volunteers, the
superintendent, and any other staff not normally in that building.
• Many schools deny access to all but the front doors during the day;
however, all doors are operational as exits.
• The front office staff should keep a sign-in sheet that includes time in and
• There should also be a designated person (and a back-up person) in the
front office that is in charge of taking out the list.
• The list should contain the names of substitutes and the teachers they are
• Some schools require staff to sign in and out each day, especially if they
are working in the building, but have a substitute in their classroom.
• Many districts require staff and visitors to wear visible I.D. badges or name
tags so their presence is authorized.
• Parents need to understand the importance of checking in the office and
waiting for their child to meet them there.
• For non-English-speaking parents, you will need to make sure that they
understand these procedures.
STUDENT RELEASE SYSTEM
What about parents/guardians connecting with kids? (Parents need
to be trained in this procedure!).
• Schools need to have information about WHO will be picking up their
• This needs to be clearly identified, especially with non-custodial parent
• There needs to be ONE person with an updated list in charge of checking
out each child.
• If a grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc., is going to pick up the student, they
should be identified by the parent prior to the time and they should show
• If a person who is NOT on the list comes to pick up the student and you
are unable to prevent them from taking the child, you may want to have a
Polaroid camera in your emergency kit so that you can take a picture of
that person and the student prior to their departure as well as check
• If possible, call the parent to verify that this person is to pick up the child, if
that is what your district decides is prudent.
• If the person picking up the child is identified as someone that the child
should not leave with, stall the individual and call the police and parent.
AFTERMATH PLAN/RECOVERY ASSISTANCE
After a resolution to an actual crisis event, series of events, or practice drill,
activities must occur which promote the stabilization of persons and property to
the previous level of order, safety, and operation. Post-crisis recovery refers to
methods for recovering from a serious emergency, including restoring order and
control, physical plant risk assessment and restoration, emergency management-
oriented hazard mitigation, setting up a critical incident debriefing process for
emotional distress, and implementing a critical incident strategic debriefing
process to assess methods of intervention and prevention.
Schools should have a plan in place to provide to students and staff ongoing
support after a crisis occurs. In some cases, people have developed symptoms
related to “post-traumatic stress disorder” months after the crisis ended.
What is your plan regarding clean- up following an incident?
• It is important that things are returned to normal as soon as possible.
• In the case of a natural disaster, etc., it may be feasible to use district
• It is wise to use an outside cleaning agency and construction company to
go in and do any necessary clean up if there is any human element to the
- You can check with law enforcement for referrals, as there may be
issues around blood borne pathogens.
Who do we bring together to debrief following an incident?
The incident management team (Incident Command System).
• This group deals with the immediate event.
• Mental health professionals will be needed at the anniversary dates.
• You will want to have a directory of individuals within the district and other
districts that are available and have the expertise you will need throughout
the crisis and the anniversary dates.
- If you use mental health professionals from other districts, the
background checks and fingerprinting have already been done.
- It is also important to have this team in place prior to any incident.
You need a team with quality professionals that you have
confidence in and that have a similar philosophy, many people in
the community may want to help, but they may not be appropriate
or may lack the proper clearance.
- You also need to know what debriefing techniques they are familiar
How do we deal with the community after an event?
• Provide an opportunity or opportunities to walk through the school.
• Assure them that everything that could be done was done.
• Take the time to address their questions and concerns. Remember, the
rumor mill will be in high gear!
• Continue to be available after the incident. Communicate regularly
regarding services provided, updates on the status of the school, and
What should schools provide?
• Critical incident stress debriefing.
• Victim assistance.
• Individual counseling and follow-up.
• Long-term support groups
What does the district do about significant dates?
You need to develop a plan for how to deal with anniversary dates.
• One week.
Six months (this date is especially important).
What if you want to practice a big event?
• Start small. Do a tabletop (a noncrisis event that is simulated on paper) as
a practice, but involve all the emergency and school players to the table.
Each has a role that they need to be familiar with.
• You will learn things from the tabletop that you have not thought of, e.g.,:
- Who should be involved from the community?
- Who should be involved from emergency services?
- What people’s roles are and if they can be performed adequately.
- Who else should have been involved?
- What did we do well?
- What do we need to change/update?
Remember: Don’t traumatize the people that are there for the practice event.
• Have a code word available that you give to the students and the adults
that will allow them to be removed and debriefed immediately!
• Have a special debriefing room and mental health professionals available
in case this does happen.
• Debriefing the training/practice
- This must be done, not only as a learning tool, but also to identify
the people who may have issues because of the drill.
So now you want to do an actual simulation/drill.
• This may take up to six months to plan, but it is worth it.
- Make sure that you involve all local emergency agencies and
necessary school personnel.
- There may be opportunities for law enforcement to practice their
skills in your schools. This can be done on a weekend and you can
use volunteer staff and students as participants.
- Make sure that you notify the neighboring community members at
least twice before you run your drill. It can be very upsetting if they
don’t know about it.
- Make sure you have mental health professionals available.
- Coordinate by school, not emergency response.
- Give kids a writing assignment at the end:
G I saw.
I I felt.
I I heard.
- NOTIFY PARENTS—let them opt their kids out.
- Give parents information so they can help their kids debrief at
- Communicate verbally and in writing what you have learned by this
Types of drills: Things to take when doing drills:
Evacuation/fire Emergency forms for students and staff
Earthquake Medical box
Shelter in place Student medication box
Lockdown Signs to identify medical staging area
Hazmat/air quality/chemical spill Clipboards with attendance lists, and
8 x 11 red and green sheets
Make sure that you follow-up with students, parents and community members
about the success and things you learned from your drill/practice event. A letter
of thanks to all goes a long way.
If you have any further questions regarding comprehensive safe schools
planning, please contact Denise Fitch at (360) 725-6059 or e-mail at