Living in South Florida as an assistant principal of a charter school, in my opinion, is one of the hardest jobs in the nation right now. Being a charter school only a few miles away from Parkland, FL, the most recent school shooting tragedy left us shaken up. Now, students and parents are looking to us to make them feel safe.
Our challenge was securing our charter middle and high school with little resources available. To overcome this challenge, we created an actionable plan to ensure safety of students, faculty, and staff in charter schools in South Florida and all across the nation.
- Hosted a Student Assembly
to have students voice their concerns and take that into consideration as we developed the action plan. Also, we added the option to have a walk out to the field to have a moment of silence to those who loss their lives in the tragedy and give students an outlet of emotional expression.
- Resource Officer
Worked through our budget to have a resource officer at our school. Applied for grants to cover some of the cost. A school resource officer is a commissioned, sworn law enforcement officer, not a security guard. Since these officers are only assigned to public schools, it was yet another barrier we had to overcome.
- Required “Code Red” Drills
Required Monthly “code red” drills for students to understand what to do during an emergency and take it seriously.
- Extra Security
Allocate funding for extra security in our school and add more cameras to blind spots for the next school year.
- Anonymous Reporting Box
Created an anonymous reporting box found in the office for students to report any suspicious activity.
- Hired a private company
We had our retired police officers/SWAT team do the following:
- Create a risk assessment and then create an crisis plan for the circumstance of an active shooter coming to our campus.
- Hosted a mandatory active shooter training for all teachers and staff.
7. Executed a communications strategy
This will constantly inform school stakeholders. Letters were sent home and uploaded on our school website of the actions taking place at our school to ensure student and teacher safety.
- Staff certified to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid
Having all of our instructional and non-instructional staff certified to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid. As a requirement per Marjorie Stoneman Act this is mandatory and although there is no specific deadline in the statue in regards to the training completion, we have already started to attend the trainings to certify our faculty and staff. In addition to this, we have added to our registration packet a section for our parents/guardians to disclose if their child has ever needed mental health therapy of any sort. This information has guided us to support and provide school counseling services to those students struggling with any mental health disorder including the more common ones of anxiety and depression.
- Added cameras
Through grants we were able to add a camera and a buzzard to our only point of entry where everyone has to be recorded and buzzed in. Upon entry, IDs are scanned and badges are given if the person is in the system. The individual has to get buzzed in again to access the rest of the building where students are.