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Advance the discipline of risk management and build a risk intelligent public school nation.  

January 27, 2010                 Edition No. 23                

In This Issue
Danger Zone Fatalities
Bullying Prevention Update
Mascot Risk Management
Commonwealth - Sharing
Constant Vigilance
Blueprints - Leading
Education - Learning
Federal Liability Monitor
Risk Points and Guides
Quick Links
Corporate Partners 
To visit partners site, click on name below:
Munich RE

Arthur J. Gallagher


Genesis Underwriting Mgt.
Company Nurse
Target Safety
Norman Peterson & Assoc.
Selective Insurance
Core Management Resources Group

School Bus Safety Company
Pittman & Company
MicroAssist, Inc.
Bickmore Risk Services
York Risk Services Group
DuPont Training Solutions powered by Coastal


to learn more about the corporate partner
program  please visit and go to Sponsors.
 School Risk Groups
Florida School Boards Insurance Trust
Minnesota School Boards Insurance Trust
New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal
Schools of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Insurance Trust

Six other school risk groups have joined these founders.
SchoolRisk News 
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Rockdale County,GA


San Francisco USD, CA


Wake County, NC 

Other districts that are direct or associate members now number more than 2,300.

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Quick Links

Forward Progress for School Risk Management

Meeting Reminders

Corporate Partner Conference Call February 2 

4:00 EDT

Contact Executive Director for Agenda and more details
Risk management helps schools carry out their mission in the face of a multitude of possibilities and potential dangers from student activities  and business operations.  It is a vital means of sustaining security, stability, confidence and fiscal soundness. 
Danger Zone Fatality Report Just Released

Latest Nationwide Survey Provides Valuable Insights.

 Thirteen students  died in the U.S. in 2009 as a result of loading and unloading school buses, according to a report prepared by the Kansas Dept. of Education.  Five fatalities were reported to have resulted from vehicles passing a stopped bus.   The other eight fatalities were analyzed to determine whether the incident occurred in front or behind the bus and whether students were reaching for objects dropped or caught in a handrail or closed door.   The survey data showed that none of the fatalities occurred on school grounds.  The incidents occurred about equally in the morning pick-up and afternoon delivery.  Ten of the fatalities occurred in clear weather in urban areas and city streets; cloudy/raining or foggy conditions were a possible factor in the other incidents.  Seven of the students were female and six were male.    Five of the deaths occurred in separate incidents in the same state.    The full report, with data from 2009 and prior years, can be found in Risk Central search  Bus Danger Zone, and the Institute's Resource Library under Pupil Transportation.  


Safety Resources 

School Bus Safety Company (SBSCo) has given away nearly 2.400 copies of a  Danger Zone safety training DVD  to both school districts and bus service contractors.     These districts represent about 210,000 school buses, or about 44% of the estimated total in the U.S.     "Districts can use this course for many years and it will help protect million of children," says Jeff Cassell, SBSCo representative.  Any district which does not have the SBSCo Danger Zone  program can go to the SBSCo web site at and request it. There is no charge.


One example of a creative way to remind kids about the dangers of getting on and off the bus is a set of colorful bookmark/rulers developed by Denver Public Schools.  Each bookmark/ruler shows students looking out for their bus with the three messages that need to be reinforced.   Stephen Finley, risk manager, can provide additional information about Denver's efforts. The Institute collects sample of communication materials used by a number of organizations.    

Bullying Prevention Update

OCR and NSBA publish legal analysis that risk managers need to consider

A lengthy December 7 letter from National School Boards Association (NSBA) suggests that the U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights "significantly expands the standard of liability set forth in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education."   NSBA was responding to  the  12 page "Dear Colleague" (DCL) letter issued October 26 and delivered to school districts across the nation.  In the DCL,  the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights stated, "I am writing to remind you, however, that some student misconduct that falls under a school's anti-bullying policy, also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws enforced by the Department of Civil Rights (OCR) limiting its response to a spcecific application of its antibullying disciplinary policy, a school many fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harrassment."  The NSBA General Counsel wrote, "Our fear is that absent clarification, the Department's  expansive reading of the law in the DCL will invite misguided litigation that needlessly drains precious school resources and creates adersarial climates that distract schools from their educational mission.  The DCL suggests a standard well beyond the Davis deliberate indifference standard, thereby making nearly every teasing/bullying incident with a sexual or religious component eligible for the letter's remedial measures." 

The Institute will monitor the exchanges and legal analysis published by NSBA and OCR, as well as, the federal Successful, Safe and Healthy Students program.  There are numerous organizations offering services to districts and risk groups.  Efforts to establish a Bullying Prevention Coalition are underway.  For additional information and relevant documents, please contact the Executive Director.  

Trademark Infringement Alert:  Mascots at Risk

Collegiate licensing attorneys may be targeting more districts.   The NSBA's Council of School Attorneys (COSA) published a report in the December issue of "Inquiry & Analysis" newsletter which describes the threat that districts may face from major universities seeking to curtail dilution of their brands and Marks used in school athletic programs.   The authors of the report describe why there is an emerging financial risk to schools  and state, "The shift in enforcement from commercial infringers, like T-shirt vendors, to secondary schools is remarkable in scope."   They also add, "These claims are here to stay unless some action is taken. 

Fighting an infringement claim may be costly and removing a popular mascot will be problematic and could be costly as well.  The report suggests several options for school districts to consider if challenged by licensing attorneys hired by a university.  The authors suggest that solutions may be found if the National School Boards Association  works with the University Trademark Association  A program developed by Georgia Tech is cited as an example of a solution that recognizes the legitimate interests of the school district and the university.  Risk leaders may want to examine the specific exposure in this area and consult with legal counsel to develop a pro-active game plan. For more information, please contact the Executive Director.

 Commonwealth Notes  -  Sharing

Forward Progress for School Risk Management.  A document packet is available for anyone to view in the Institute's Resources under Helpful Links/Forward Progress. Included is the new  Service Guide of the Institute.    The nine guiding principles of a risk intelligent enterprise, as conceived by Deloitte, are also outlined for consideration and applicability to school districts. Two other documents are Vital Goals and Objectives of the Institute and  Vocabulary of School Risk Management, which highlights the importance of shared understanding of key terms used in  communicating about risk. 


School Risk Leaders Move into Top Association Positions 

 The new president of the Risk & Insurance Management Society, (RIMS),  is veteran Miami-Dade Schools risk manager, Scott Clarke.   He moved up from the Treasurer position on January 1. You can read his "taking the reins" message at  The work that Clarke will be doing and his travel on behalf of RIMS outside the US  is likely to bring new awareness of the risk management function in public schools.   


Executives of school risk groups advanced into the top position of two important associations on January 1.    Shawn Bubb, Montana Schools Group Insurance Authority,  is now president of the Association of Governmental Risk Pools and Martin Brady, Schools Insurance Authority,  is new president of the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities. 


Mary Sue Linville, Washington Schools Risk Management Pool continues on the board of directors of the Public Risk Management Association. Cecil Tatum, Risk Manager, Northeast ISD, San Antonio, continues on the board of directors of United Educators Insurance.


 Spotlight on Featured Contributors.  The Institute extends special thanks for all of the individuals who have submitted articles for Risk Central.  Here are short bios on four  regular contributors.    


Paul Binsfeld is the CEO of Company Nurse, a firm specializing in injury management for workers' compensation. He has 20+ years experience in the workers' compensation industry.  Paul has written articles for many insurance and workers' compensation publications, such as The Journal of Workers' Compensation, Public Risk, Risk & Insurance, National Underwriter, and Employee Benefit News. Company Nurse was recognized as an Arizona "Company to Watch," based on its growth and entrepreneurial leadership.   


David Brawner is a Senior Risk Control Consultant for Willis Pooling. For over 30 years he has specialized in helping public and private schools around the country identify and control loss exposures and risks.   


Rick Phillips is the Executive Director of Community Matters a nonprofit dedicated to reducing student violence.   Rick is a nationally-recognized educator, facilitator, trainer, keynote presenter, workshop leader. He has appeared on The Today Show and is the lead author of Safe School Ambassadors: Harnessing Student Power to Stop Bullying and Violence and "Ten Years after Columbine: School Violence-Prevention Report Card."   Rick has been a building and regional administrator and a teacher who brings years of expertise and practical experience to his inspiring presentations.  


Neal Trautman, Ph.D., is the director of the nonprofit National Institute of Ethics. He has authored 11 books, chaired several national ethics committees and was president of the International Association of Ethics Trainers.  He has instructed 764 Integrity/Leadership seminars and authored 97 articles

Editors Note: We will introduce other contributors in our next edition.   Readers of Risk Central can respond with their comments to the views and ideas expressed by the contributors, and new contributors are welcomed to submit articles or a series of articles.  For more information, please contact the Executive Director.


Successful Event for NC School Risk Management Academy 

The January 14 educational event held in Greensboro North Carolina provided  43 participants with insights and ideas to help districts protect resources, boost student achievement and improve productivity - with specific risk management measures that save money.   The six featured presenters were  Steve Dieg, Montgomery Insurance, Kathleen Tanner Kennedy, Tharrington Smith law firm, Zach Wright, Surry Insurance,  Wade Gulledge, Durham Public Schools, Karen Asplund, McNeary Consulting and Dan Pliszka, Charlotte-Mecklenberg County.  Ron Allen, Durham County Schools, was moderator for a panel featuring three of the presenters.   The event was made possible with support from Institute corporate partners and these twelve event sponsors:  Abacus Research, Arthur J. Gallagher, Carolina Case Management, Corvel, Genex, Key Risk, Montgomery Insurance, Millenium Insurance, Safety Schools, Surry Insurance, Wells Fargo and Young Group.  PublicSchoolWORKS provided gifts for the speakers.

A dedicated webportal was launched so that documents from this event and other projects of school risk leaders in North Carolina can be easily accessible.  A link to the portal is under the Institute's at Resources/Helpful Links/North Carolina.

Constant Vigilance and the Range of Possibilities 

Schools on High Alert Again

A violent rampage at a board meeting, a shooting that took the life of an assistant principal,  the accidental shooting in a high school, the terrible carnage in Tuscon, a  student death due to peanut allergy -- these and other recent unexpected events have put school leaders and the public back on high alert for school safety.  

Risk leaders urged to engage in "blue-skying" thinking 

The importance of "what if" conversations was underscored in a recent article by Melanie Herman, Executive Director, Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Ms. Herman stated, "As leaders of nonprofit organizations [schools] that exist in a changing and complex world, we must tap into past experience and look for wisdom, insight, and lessons we can apply in calibrating our risk appetite, managing our organizations in a world of risk, and inspiring staff and volunteers to sign on and sign up to help.   But we also need to give ourselves permission to engage in blue-sky thinking about the future. And we must not limit our view of the future to a straight line path from the present. None of us knows how things will "turn out." To be truly "prepared" and create resilient organizations, we must envision an ever widening range of possibilities."


School risk leaders can encourage everyone in their organization  to be risk intelligent and engage in careful risk identification and assessment.    

Blueprints Notes -  Leading

Continuous Improvement Model for School Risk Management

Initial work completed by three task forces  produced nearly 100 descriptive statements for districts to  use in assessing their  progress. There are four descriptive statements for each of the  24 elements.  These 24 elements are divided equally among three categories: General Leadership, Incident Prevention Practices and Injury Management.   Ultimately, the Model may have 400 descriptive statements in 110 - 125 elements.   


The Model operates on the premise that it is  better to have a prioritized list of things to do than a simple list in random order.  The Model helps districts avoid the traps in "yes or no"  surveys  and audits.  The  descriptive statements iin the Model illustrate the gap between a conventional practice that may be inadequate and a best practice that is considered more effectiveness and likely to result in optimal outcomes.  When work on the Model is completed, it can be a tool for districts   and risk group leaders in planning and measurement of effective risk management actions and programs.  Risk management advisors will be able to help districts choose descriptive statements that best fit the current situation for each element.  


All documents for the project can be found on the Institute's website at Resources/Helpful Links/Continuous Improvement Model.    


New task forces and the project steering committee are expected to resume work on the model in early February.  For more information or to find out how to be involved in this project, please contact the Executive Director or Catherine Bennett, Project Manager at:


Education Notes -   Learning

Upcoming Events -  California to Carolina

School risk management leaders will be among the featured presenters during the Annual Conference of the Public Agency Risk Management Association, (PARMA), February 7-9, Anaheim, CA.  Cathy Aquilar, San Francisco USD, will be a presenter onStrategies for Managing Employees with Serial Workers' Comp Claims.  Paula Chu Tanguay, Alliance of Schools for Cooperative Insurance Purchasing,  will be on a panel to discuss how the preparation and receipt of the same actuary report can affect three different roles in risk management.  Catherine Jones, Self-Insured Schools of California, will be a presenter on AEDs and other Medical Hot Buttons. (including asthmatic and diabetic emergencies and do not resuscitate orders)  Cindy Wilkerson and Dave Morris, who have many years experience working with schools, will discuss Create Your Risk ScorecardMichele Mariscal, Schools Insurance Authority will guide participants in Living in the NOW Moment, a presentation intended to demonstrate simple techniques for creating greater resilience and ability to deal with change.

Ron Allen
, Durham Public Schools and Curtis Grogan, Wake County Schools will lead a two hour presentation for the North Carolina Assn of School Business Officials on February 14. The session will include an exercise in risk identification/assessment and practical ways for finance officers to manage risk and save money.    While textbooks discuss some of the tools that organizations can use to identify exposures and evaluate the potential loss, Allen and Grogran will bring years of practical experience as risk managers.   


The Institute is assisting with two of these presentations and welcomes your suggestions, insights and requests for additional resources.   


Editors Note: In our next edition, we plan preview several other events, including the annual conference of the Texas Association of School Business Officials, (TASBO) which serves about 5,000 school business administrators in the state.  


Federal Liability Monitor

Shift in Employment Practices Complaints Reported.   

On January 11, the EEOC reported that job discrimination charges hit a high of nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2010.   The number of retaliation complaints - alleged discrimination against employees for complaining internally or to the EEOC - outnumbered racial discrimination charges for the first time since EEOC started operating.  More data and statistics on retaliation complaints filed against public school districts would be helpful to school administrators, however, there is anecdotal evidence that school districts may also be experiencing more of these type claims from employees. 


The US Supreme Court has given employees further protection against retaliation in the Thompson v. North American Stainless decision handed down on January 24.  School risk leaders will want to get legal advice on how the "zone of interests" test may apply to employees related to others employees who they want to terminate. 


The Institute continues to monitor emerging federal court liability in the areas of  Exceptional Education, Occupational Safety & Health, Nutrition, Product Safety, Pupil Transportation, Environmental Protection.  Periodic special editions and supplements to this newsletter will be available to members and subscribers.  

Ri sk Points and Guide Posts  

Workers' Comp Cost: Take pharmacy expense to the mat,  make the most of  savings opportunities, really engage with injured workers -

these are  themes expressed by three recent contributors to Risk Central.  Scott Clarke shares his experience in getting to the bottom of hidden costs in pharmacy and explains how districts can drive down costs.  School risk manager can benefit from his insights.    Paul Binfeld points out seven gifts that districts possess and need to fully leverage. Among these are untapped talent and  time.  Time wasted by delays in injury reporting does not have to continue, he asserts.   Marlon Robbins urges use of the The Interactive Process (IP) as part of an Early Return to Work strategy. He describes IP  as "a forum, an environment of good faith communication we create, in which we maximize opportunities for the individual to receive their disability rights. Those rights include the right to be reasonably accommodated, and the right to participate in that decision-making process."


Violent Behavior:  The difficulty of predicting violent attacks is  discussed in an article recently published in  Risk Central by Jack Lance. He shares his experience as general counsel for a growing district and explains some of the factors beyond control of schools.  A detailed student threat assessment form is now available in Risk Central.


Sexual Misconduct:  In her recent article for  Risk Central, Wendy Wylie urged districts to do all they can and not settle for generic approaches to the threat injury posed to students by employee sexual misconduct.  Her message is to "get real" and don't delay prevention.  A webportal  dedicated to sexual misconduct prevention is inked to Institute's homepage.  WyliE3 Training developed the portal and keeps it up-to-date.   

Risk Central was introduced in November 2009 as "The Interactive Knowledge Center" and serves as a open forum for the school risk management community.  Access is open to anyone who registers There is no charge. Users will find Community Resources - interactive document library with seach engine, News & Announcements, Featured Contributors and Featured Solutions.   This example of a Web 2.0 platform uses TargetSafety's PreventionLink Connect applications.   Click here to go directly to Risk Central or look for the launch icon on the Institute's homepage. 

Public School Risk Institute
Please call or send us a note with your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and any projects you would like to see us undertake. We also want to receive school contact names, contacts with organizations you believe may want to be involved, and material for the new website resources. We hope you find the Institute's newly updated website useful.  Please visit regularly and let us know how we can support your efforts to advance risk management.  Your input and feedback is greatly desired and appreciated.



Lee Gaby, Executive Director 
Public School Risk Institute
Phone  (706) 715-3381 Ext. 701