Preventing Crisis: Spotting Danger
Since the Columbine School massacre in 1999, there have been an estimated 262 school and college shooting incidents. Just this past October, a gunman opened fire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College and as of this writing, in December 2015, Los Angeles Unified School District and several schools in New Hampshire shut down all schools after receiving "credible threats" of violence.
Tim Goral, senior editor of District Administration magazine, conducted a Q&A with J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist from the University of California-San Diego who believes many attacks and shootings might be thwarted with proper intervention.
Meloy mentioned the need to increase the availability of mental health services for students who need them and outlined three universal warning behaviors that students who may be homicidal exhibit: pathway, fixation and identification. Pathway refers to the long-term research and planning individuals conduct. Fixation is the individual's obsession with their original grievance and violence. Identification is when the individual alters their behavior or look to emulate that of other previous perpetrators.
With these tell-tale behaviors in mind, the FBI and the Department of Education recommend K12 schools form threat assessment teams. Meloy suggested making these teams multidisciplinary by including a principal or assistant principal, a school resource officer or police officer, faculty who have a good rapport with students, any mental health staff and ideally, someone who is "well-versed in the legalities of threat assessment with an adolescent population." In addition to threat assessment, these teams need to also manage threats and periodically follow-up with previously identified students. Meloy advised schools to monitor social media as many homicidal teens communicate their intentions to a third-party prior to following through with their plans.
To read the Q&A in its entirety, click here. What are your thoughts about creating a threat assessment team for your school? Share your thoughts on our social media pages — Facebook and @PSWORKS on Twitter!
Customer Highlight: Wayzata Public Schools
Wayzata Public Schools in Wayzata, MN is expanding to keep up with the ever-increasing student population in the area. The district was approved to build another elementary school and put an addition on the high school. Once completed, Wayzata High School will be the largest high school in the state.
With the growing number of students throughout the district, the district knew it would have to make risk management a priority. When the district created a list of processes in need of improvement, student accident reporting was first on the list. Wayzata Public Schools' existing reporting process relied on the manual completion of an incident form, which was photocopied and then distributed to various parties. After distribution, there was not a single repository to keep injury records, which created unnecessary risk.
After a short pilot of StudentWatch's Student Accident Reporting System with district nurses, Wayzata Public Schools saw the value in upgrading from a manual process to StudentWatch's electronic process. After a brief test of the system, the nurses were ready to utilize the system immediately — even though this was beyond the scope of the pilot. The school board and administration were so impressed with the system's automation and reliability in reducing risk that they chose to fully implement the system, as well as the EmployeeSafe suite.
To read the Wayzata Public Schools case study in its entirety, click here.
PublicSchoolWORKS in the Media
PublicSchoolWORKS is starting the year off with a bang! Keep an eye out for us in the following publications:
ASBO International's School Business Affairs magazine will feature a co-authored article from Tom Strasburger, the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for PublicSchoolWORKS, and Steve Waldmann, the former Manager of School Business Affairs of Kings Local School District. The article, which will appear in the January issue of the publication, shares how districts can use technology to stay in compliance with new safety mandates.
Risk Management Magazine's January issue will include an article from Strasburger and Jeanne Butzek, the Executive Assistant of Business Services of Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District. Butzek describes how Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District's six-step accident and incident reporting process has helped reduce workplace safety issues.
The Maryland and District of Columbia affiliate of ASBO is publishing their January issue of ASBO Matters with an article — authored by Strasburger — about balancing the many safety and compliance considerations throughout a school district.
K-12 TechDecisions is interviewing Brad Barker, COO of Teton County School District #1, and Strasburger for their January "TD Project" online editorial series. Teton County School District #1 uses both the EmployeeSafe and StudentWatch suites, but is the first district in Wyoming to use StudentWatch's Student Behavior Management System to report and track both positive and negative student behaviors.
We owe you a big THANK YOU!
Throughout the year, we've asked you to nominate or vote for your favorite PublicSchoolWORKS products quite a few times — and we truly appreciate it. Because of your loyalty and your willingness to recognize us, EmployeeSafe won its SEVENTH consecutive District Administration Readers' Choice Top Products Award! Again, we THANK YOU for being such supportive customers