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

April 14, 2011                 Edition No. 1                   

In This Issue
School Risk Puzzle
Bullying Prevention Update
Featured Risk Control
Strategies for Leadership
Federal Liability Monitor
Balanced Scorecard
Risk Points and Guides
Earthquake Ready in US
Core Competency and more
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

Seven other school risk groups have joined these founders.


SchoolRisk News 
Join Our Mailing List
 School Districts

City of Atlanta, GA


City of Chicago, IL


Clark County, NV


City of Cleveland, OH 


Dekalb County, GA


Fairfax County, VA  

 Francis Howell, MO  

Fulton County, GA


Miami-Dade, FL


Rockdale County,GA


San Francisco USD, CA


Wake County, NC 

Other districts that are direct or associate members now number more than 2,600.

To find out how to join, click here!    School leaders who are members can search the directory and find districts with similar risk management interests.    


 for access to top risk management professionals.
Reports are compiled, distributed and archived to save time and money.
Quick Links

Forward Progress for School Risk Management 

Board of Directors

Mike Florio,  

Dekalb County Schools, Chairman


Dave George,  

San Francisco USD,  

Vice Chairman


Joe Goncalves,  

New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal,  



Mark McKinney,  

Florida School Boards Insurance Trust,  



Denise Drill,  

Minnesota School Boards Insurance Trust


Jill Eaton,  

Genesis Underwriting Management


Roy Jacobs,

Pennsylvania School Boards Insurance Trust


Jack Lance,  

Rockdale County Schools


David Massy,

Clark County Schools


Wayne Smith,



Kevin Supple,  

Francis Howell Schools 


This newsletter is intended to promote exchange of information concerning management of risk in the public school arena.   Risk management is a vital means of sustaining security, stability, confidence and fiscal soundness.   
Leaders Master the School Risk Puzzle

Risk Groups and Creative Collaboration   

CFOs/schools business officials, risk managers and school risk group staff members are working on what seems like an elaborate three dimensional puzzle with numerous moving parts.    


Across the country, the renewal process for coverage has begun for  many districts and school risk groups.  Successful navigation of  the budget process must take place amidst continuing fiscal uncertainty. For the next 8-10 weeks, insurance companies will be bringing proposals and trying to secure favorable terms for their primary and excess products. Underwriters  of excess insurance emphasize the importance of  long term relationships, however this is more challenging for school leaders  in times of shifting risk appetites. 


School risk groups have proven their ability to deliver innovative, stable and sustainable risk financingAs these groups ramp up their services to members, in many places they are also facing intense  pressure to reduce costs to members.  Many school risk leaders are trying to make sure the advantages of risk groups are not overlooked or discounted.  


Staffing is a big piece of the risk management puzzle. Some districts have had to reduce risk management staff, many safety and security budgets are being paired down and some districts may lose risk managers to the private sector or retirement.   


This may be one of the most challenging periods for everyone involved in  arranging risk management services and coverages.    Creative collaboration will be one of the keys to solving the puzzle.    



Risk Groups Are Making Extraordinary Commitment to Risk Safety and Loss Prevention

Risk control services come in many different forms, and risk groups across the country have been offering choices to their members in about 18 categories.   Online training, seminars, loss control visits and best practices programs are being customized in ways that make  each risk group distinctive.     


At least two large school risk groups have actually helped purchase preventive maintenance software systems for their members and there may be others doing the same or contemplating such a program.    Many experts have pointed out  the severe consequences that can arise from underfunded or poor maintenance. has been able to document lower frequency of breakdown and property damage in districts that used effective preventive maintenance scheduling and work order management programs.    


An effort is underway by the Institute to identify and inventory the risk control programs and other noteworthy distinctions among school risk groups.    


Bullying Prevention Update

Proceedings of White House Conference on Bullying Prevention

Materials from the March 10 White House Conference on Bullying Prevention include  a report on effective bullying and violence prevention strategies by  researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention of Youth Violence. More than 100 pages of documents and a video tape of the conference can be found at   The President was joined  on stage by First Lady Michelle Obama, who gave her own opening remarks.


Minnesota Holds Bullying Prevention Summit

It looks like Minnesota is the latest state to hold a bullying prevention summit for school administrators, counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, resource officers, teachers, school transportation leaders, and community health providers.  At the March 7 day-long event, attendees focused their attention on bullying, cyber bullying, school bus bullying, the relationship between bullying and suicide prevention, and other forms of relational aggression, such as dating violence. The summit produced information about best practices, practical tools and strategies to help educational professionals in their daily work.   Sponsors of the event included the    Hazelden Foundation, Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota School Safety Center, the Minnesota Department of Health, and three principals associations.   


Whole School Climate and Dignity for All Students  

School board members and other school leaders from large and urban districts attending the National School Boards Association Annual Conference in San Francisco had the chance on April 9 to hear Rick Phillips talk about  bullying prevention as part of a whole school climate improvement framework.  The thrust of the message was that school climate is both the foundation and the most cost effective approach for creating safe schools, high graduation rates, and successful students.  Mr. Philips is Executive Director of Community Matters, a California based, nationwide nonprofit organization that developed the Safe School Ambassadors program. 


New York's "Dignity for All Student's Law" was one of the topics on the agenda for a special bullying prevention workshop April 11, titled

Creating a Positive School Climate, sponsored by New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal.

Alarm Clocks, Directional Signals, the Cartoon Network  and a Mindmap

Some organizations merely act as alarm clocks to get your attention, others give clear guidance and some are extremely helpful in pulling people together to try to make a difference.    


At the Cartoon Network, a division of Turner Broadcasting, a team of talented people has created a website to help reach young people and connect them to resources they can use to help their friends and  build a healthy school climate: go to


CN  reaches more than 90 million children,  according  to Alice Cahn, Vice President for Social Responsibility.  Ms. Cahn and her CN colleagues understand the research on effective  bulllying prevention, connect with other outstanding leaders and apply media skills and other resources to make a difference.       



Speaking about bullying prevention in an article for Risk Cenrtral, Jill Eaton of Genesis Underwritign Management wrote, "When there is this type of focus and attention given to a specific issue that affects public entities, the pools can be the lobbyists that help enact legislation, the reviewers and purchasers of products dedicated to the issue, and the news messengers to the members that are currently dealing with this issue or may not yet have been affected, as well as the creators of risk management programs."



Actions to prevent bullying and improve school climate include a wide range of activities and training programs, information websites, legislative advocacy, child welfare advocacy, reporting systems, intervention strategies and juvenile justice remedies.   


There are numerous organizations not mentioned above that offer valuable services to districts and risk groups. A mindmap created by the Institute is available to help school leaders understand and navigate through the wide array of organizations that are taking leadership roles in the nationwide effort to prevent bullying. The Institute is also seeking support to develop a webportal for easy access to events, programs and other resources. This may be patterned after the Sexual Misconduct Prevention webportal found at  The Institute seeks to monitor emerging legal analysis and opinions of various educational organizations.  For additional information and relevant documents, please contact the Executive Director.     

Featured Courseware and Risk Control Solutions

In addition to the courses mentioned below, most  of the companies  noted in a category also offer numerous additional courses, customization support,  risk group branding, compliance tools and related productivity and safety software applications.  Comments here are not intended to suggest that a featured solution is the only solution in the category.   


Athletic Safety

SafeSchools recently published an online safety course called "Concussion Awareness: Athletics."  The course was authored by Brent George, a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer who holds a Master of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Puget Sound. Along with teaching and consulting, Brent works closely with amateur, collegiate, and professional athletes including the Seattle Seahawks.


Bus Safety

School Bus Safety Company developed a new training course for "Transporting Students with Special Needs."  The course includes seven DVDs, Driver/Aide Study Guide, Driver Job Aid, Trainer's Guide and How to Use the Course Guide, all smartly packaged and available with custom branding for risk groups.  Coming soon will be a Bullying Prevention course.  

Emergency Planning & Crisis Communication

Hour Zero Crisis Consulting, Ltd. now offers a web application, which ensures districts have an emergency response plan that is maintained and current.  Hour-Zero™ works with cooperating agencies to provide a standardized plan of action for each department and school, using ICS. The program provides for mapping, first responder collaboration, ICS integration, on-line training, report generation, drill and training development, stakeholder presentations, risk hazard assessments, a detailed plan for specific processes for schools and district departments, testing, plan maintenance and an extensive library of templates to manage the crisis.  The  program works through all the phases of emergency management - mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. 


Employment Practices Liability

"HR Made Simple", powered by HRSentry delivers over 9,000 state and federal resources for employment practice risk control through web- based technology 24/7/365.  For about the same cost as four hours of attorney time, a district can utilize the full annual service, including 12 fully searchable resource libraries, an HR Road Map provides district administrators with tools to help stay on track with employment law compliance as well as a "what are you doing today" module to help school leaders tackle specific HR issues immediately.


Respiratory Aerosol Transmissable Disease Prevention

TargetSafety offers an online course to help administrators understand and implement an effective Infectious Disease Emergency Response Plan.   An IDER plan is now required by CAL-OSHA.    


Slips, Trips & Falls

Coastal/Dupont Sustainable Solutions developed a new training program, Slips, Trips & Falls: Educate Yourself, to raise awareness among school faculty and staff to help them avoid injury.  The program is available on DVD now; it will also be offered in e-learning format.    Online preview and seven day DVD preview are available from Coastal/Dupont website. 


In future editions, we will try to provide outlines of risk control solution available for districts and school risk groups, along with featured courseware and programs on subjects identified in our ongoing environmental scan.   The Institute's Training Tables project seeks to maintain an up-to-date inventory of online courses and  courseware offered by leading vendors as well as those developed by school risk groups. We welcome suggestions to make these notes and supplemental reports useful.   


Strategies and Tools for Leadership

Executive Strategies for Risk Managers in Turbulent Times

 "Leadership is an elusive concept that, at times, can be vague and ambiguous.  As a result, there are no set rules or formulas or leaders to follow.  There are only guidelines and concepts, perceptions and ideas, abstractions and generalities.  This is why the art of leading people is so difficult to master and teach, and why there is such a great need for role models.   


We must study individuals who are recognized as successful leaders, those who have demonstrated their abilities with tangible results.  In short, we must look to our heroes.  For it is only by examining individuals such as Abraham Lincoln that we can ever hope to understand how effective leadership works."  - Donald T. Phillips, Lincoln on Leadership, 1992.



Turning a negative situation into something positive is one of the ways that risk managers become valuable to their district.  A district that recently experienced a high frequency of playground injuries at one school was able to win accolades from parents.  District leaders identified that the cause of the problem was play structures that included zip lines and sky wheels. At that point, they took prompt action to install  equipment that was simpler in design.   




"If your actions inspire others to dream more,learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."  - John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President



School Risk Leaders Detect Errors and Help Each Other

If you have ever been misunderstood or misquoted,  you can understand why it was funny to read that one of the four phases of innovation is "Total Loss of Risk."   The speaker said or meant to say, Total Cost of Risk and somehow this came out differently in a report about the meeting.   Sometimes words are mangled, sentences come out wrong or get changed when passed along or simply get misinterpreted.   Some writing errors can also cause confusion as was the case of the staff member who wrote to his supervisor, "I think it's pretty pathetic that our children cannot even say the pledge of legions in school and that new principal has a pre-Madonna complex."    Risk leaders pay close attention to details that others sometimes miss.   A sense of humor also helps.  


Federal Liability Monitor

"Culture of Compliance" Cited as Source of Uncertainty and Fear

As reported by the US House of Representative Education and Workforce Committee on March 15, Orange County Public Schools (VA)  Superintendent Dr. Robert Grimesey affirmed the need to rein in the federal regulatory burden, stating, "The vast majority of rural school superintendents and school board members understand and respect the need for reasonable accountability and transparency as we receive and invest federal dollars. However, we believe that there is much that is not reasonable about the ever-expanding nature of many federal obligations." He added, "Ultimately, many well-intended federal regulations are creating a 'culture of compliance' that leads to a local fear of becomes very difficult to maintain our focus on the achievement and welfare of our children." 



Seclusion & Restraints Safety...efforts to mandate national standards seemed to have stopped. However, the Council for Exceptional Children reported this week that  "Lawmakers in the U.S. House have revived a bill that would set national guidelines for the use of restraint and seclusion with students in special education. The bill, reintroduced by Rep. George Miller and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 17 lawmakers would prohibit the practice in most cases, disallow its inclusion in a students' individualized education plan, and would require parents to be notified when such practice is employed."


Workplace Safety ....OSHA's agenda and budget are being reviewed in the 112th Congress; whether new scrutiny of the cost of regulations and effectiveness of employer penalties will benefit schools is uncertain.   


Employee terminations....Remember to seek legal advice as result of a recent Supreme court ruling that discusses the "zone of interests" test and how it applies in cases involving termination of employees who are related to others employees.



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.  

Continuous Improvement Model/Balanced Scorecard Project Update 

A special newsletter was released April 4 with an invitation and brief update on the Institute's Continuous Improvement Model/Balanced Scorecard for School Risk Management.  Further reports are expected to be released  later this month and periodically over the next 90 days as task force activity resumes.  The Institute is grateful to Munich Re for being the lead sponsor for the project.       

Risk Points and Guide Posts  from Risk Central 

Comments here are drawn from Featured Contributions in Risk Central.  This is a sample of available content. 


Workers' Comp Costs:   

Use mediation for the tough cases, advised Veteran defense attorney Robert Heywood of Oakland CA. In his article, he explains  why mediation matters, how to select a mediator and the advantages of mediation in work comp case.    


Set expectations and follow sound protocol for extension of modified duty assignments in the RTW process, advised   Becky Slaughter, who wrote about her experience with modified duty assignments and the steps needed for success on the difficult cases.  


"Good Samaritans must be smart," advised David Brawner.  He offers a ten point outline for schools to respond quickly and safeguard their employees' health when they find themselves in the role of first-responder at the scene of a serious injury.  


Risk Central also includes archived contributions on important workers' comp issues  from  Scott Clarke, Paul Binfeld and  Marlon Robbins.


Violent Incident Security Measures:   

School administrators should ask themselves six questions in order to have a better chance of preventing violent incidents by students and employees, said Paul Timm.  He article contains several important recommendations, following on the  heals of two recent violent acts  that led to deaths of school administrators in NE and CA.  


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.    

Great Shakeout Coming to Central U.S.

Earthquake Preparedness in Schoolsdindding

Experts continue to remind schools that what they do before a big earthquake will determine what life will be like afterwards. To learn more and be a part of the largest earthquake drill in central U.S. history, go to  .


Core Competency Model Unveiled; D.I. Bootcamp for School Risk Management Proposed

Working from the model of the Risk & Insurance Management Society, an initial version of a core competency model for school risk manager has been created by the Institute.  The most noticeable new feature is component for Education Policy and Law.     


In addition to a six-month "hot topic" webinar series that is slated to begin in May, the Institute is seeking ideas for an intensive virtual bootcamp to introduce disruptive innovations in risk management that can produce significant return on investment for districts.   


Additional details about these initiatives are available from the Executive Director.   

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