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Mitigation and Prevention Both Mitigation and Prevention occur during the first phase. Mitigation is defined as on-going actions taken to identify assets and risk factors, steps taken to reduce and/or eliminate harm to persons or property, and efforts



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What is safety In a post Columbine Nickel Mines 1 environment a common term like safety has
been redefined Previous definitions of safety may have included phrases such as freedom from
harm or risk and secure from the threat of danger harm loss failure damage or accidents
Today s redefinition equates safety with readiness and incident management In large measure
safety is assessed as relative to the degree of one s preparedness Preparedness is established by
the National Incident Management System NIMS
In the spirit of preparedness the President of the United States on February 28 2003 issued
Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD 5 thereby directing the Secretary of Homeland
Security to develop and administer a National Incident Management System NIMS According to
NIMS 2004 the system provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all agencies
organizations and entities including schools to work together effectively and efficiently to prepare
for prevent respond to and recover from incidents regardless of cause size complexity or
location In short NIMS is a comprehensive framework for incident management that presents all
responders with a core set of doctrine concepts principles terminology structures mechanisms
and operational directions Incident management at the classroom district or state level must be
aligned with the NIMS framework Furthermore the connection between the NIMS framework and
school based incidents is even more directly prescribed Schools receiving Title IV funds are
required to have a Safety Plan Safety Plans should address a broad range of possible incidents
including the types of violent incidents that result in arrests
The mounting number of well publicized tragedies confirms our nations need to establish and
expand school preparedness as much more than periodic fire drills According to School Safety in
the 21st Century 2004
During times of crisis schools must function temporarily as a parent a nurse and a
physician They must do so until families can be reunited Feeding sheltering
administering first aid and handling mental health needs could become extended
school responsibilities They must handle an array of special needs students For
instance visually hearing impaired and physically mentally challenged may need to
be evacuated relocated and or sheltered in place Also schools may have to
translate safety information and directions to non English speaking students Senior
experts from the military and law enforcement communities agreed that
superintendents principals and others in charge carry by name accountability This
means that parents and members of the school community will specifically hold
individuals in these positions responsible for the prevention and effective management
of incidents p 7
Schools must dramatically increase their ability to develop practice and effectively implement
functional safety plans
School Safety Plans and NIMS
School Safety Plans also known as Emergency Operation Plans should be based on the four phases
of incident management see following diagrams a Mitigation Prevention b Preparedness c
Response d Recovery The following two diagrams outline the four phases and illustrate two
important aspects of incident management First the life cycle of incidents can be depicted as on
going overlapping activities or phases Second while prevention preparedness and mitigation
activities tend to be on going response and recovery activities tend to have starting points while
response tends to also have an end point The four phases identified above are depicted in the
following diagrams
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Mitigation and Prevention
Both Mitigation and Prevention occur during the first phase Mitigation is defined as on going actions taken to
identify assets and risk factors steps taken to reduce and or eliminate harm to persons or property and efforts
undertaken to protect the environment Such actions may include school policy and rules community education
environmental assessments and subsequent implementation of countermeasures Prevention is defined as actions
taken to protect life and property and avoid or intervene in incidents It requires the application of intelligence
and other information and may include surveillance immunizations inspections warning systems public
notification development of response partnerships and exercise or testing various aspects of the school s Safety
There is a general agreement that the broad range of social and environmental hazards whether slip and falls
fights school shootings fires chemical spills infectious diseases winter storms or earthquakes should be
assessed and addressed in an All Hazards Safety Plan Incidents or crises cannot always be controlled and will
vary in scope intensity impact and location Furthermore a crisis could occur before during or after school
Additionally because each school is unique with its own needs resources and assets it is critical that each
school conduct its own assessment of possible hazards and develops effective countermeasures According to
the U S Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools 2003
Schools cannot always control fights bomb threats and school shootings However they can take
actions to reduce the likelihood of such events Schools may institute policies implement violence
prevention programs and take other steps to improve the culture and climate of their campuses
Mitigating emergencies is also important from a legal standpoint If a school district or state does
not take all necessary actions in good faith to create safe schools it could be vulnerable to a suit
for negligence p 2 1
Mitigation actions related to school violence could include identifying high incident areas and developing
countermeasures such as redeploying more personnel to the area identifying school personnel who are trained in
a broad range of safety and life saving techniques including First Aid CPR de escalation and peer mediation
developing early intervention policies to address students with a pattern of disruptive behaviors and
communicating school expectations and rules to students and families
Most schools have policies programs and often time various kinds of curricula and programs aimed at
promoting positive behaviors Quoting the U S Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools
in it s publication entitled Practical Information on Crisis Planning A Guide for Schools and Communities
2007 Social problem solving or life skills programs anti bullying programs and school wide discipline efforts
are common across the nation as a means of helping reduce violent behavior p 21 What these efforts lack is a
common unifying comprehensive structure that transfers seamlessly into other environments such as homes
hospitals private businesses and city halls NIMS provides such a structure
Preparedness
The second phase in the incident management cycle is Preparedness Preparedness is defined as pre determining
responses prior to incidents developing contingency plans practicing the plan with school and first responders
such as local police and fire departments and identifying transitional steps necessary to move the school
environment from incident response into recovery Preparedness actions could include identifying a Safety Team
to develop the plan including recognizing the triggers that move schools from normalcy to crisis response
identifying the various resources detailing response roles and responsibilities developing methods and protocols
for communicating with staff students parents and the media practicing the three school wide response
Evacuation Shelter in place Lock down and identifying and incorporating lessons learned from other
incidents into updated Safety Plans
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The focus of the Preparedness phase is on planning and exercising aspects of the plan Schools are becoming
more adept at planning for the various environmental factors such as earthquakes fires chemical release and
winter storms In addition to environmental factors an All Hazard Safety Plan should also address a broad range
of violent acts that could occur in the schools including bullying fights assaults school shootings etc
According to the U S Department of Education in 2003 there were 154 200 incidents of serious violent crime in
schools in 2004 2005 there were 21 student homicide victims in schools Despite these numbers schools are still
among the safest environment for children and youth However as reflected in the data occasionally incidents do
occur Albeit what NIMS ICS teaches us is that preparedness will facilitate an effective and efficient response
Furthermore given the broad areas covered by incident management plans developed in the preparedness stage
provide schools with a comprehensive response for a broad range of incidents that may vary daily in scope size
and complexity However given that change is a constant updating the plans and sharing the updates with key
partners is a necessary component of the process
Preparedness actions therefore requires partnerships with local agencies including police fire medical personnel
public health utilities and family and youth serving agencies Pre planning and Memorandums of Understanding
MOU s should identify strategic partners document partnership agreements with specific roles responsibilities
and the triggering events Additionally safety plans should anticipate and address various physical disruptions
Specifically the plan should identify the full range of disruptive behaviors common to the school environment
including disruptions caused by aggressive or unusual behaviors Prior preparation for a broad range of possible
incidents ensures a rapid and effective response
The third phase of the incident management cycle is response Response is defined as providing emergency
assistance to save lives protect property and speed recovery Response actions generally include the
mobilization of emergency personnel and equipment to assess the situation save lives protect property and the
environment and contain the incident Within NIMS there is a proven effective operations management
mechanism Incident Command System ICS that provides organizational structure to small large and multi
jurisdictional multi agency incidents ICS provides effective transition from normal operations to crisis
response to recovery through efficient communication coordination protocols and proven resource integration
The goal of response is rapid effective containment of the incident while preserving life property and the
environment Effectiveness includes recognizing that every incident is local and efficiency requires a clear chain
of command between all responders Chain of command and other major elements required for a successful
response has been fully identified and developed in the Incident Command System ICS According to Practical
Information for School and Communities every crisis has certain major elements As further elaborated in The
Emergency Management Institute Introduction to ICS for Schools IS 100 for Schools while
Effective incident management relies on a tight command and control structure and strict
adherence to top down direction ICS emphasizes effective planning including management by
objectives reliance on an Incident Action Plan chain of command and unity of command
ICS also helps ensure full utilization of all incident resources and supports responders and
decision makers through effective information and intelligence management The mobilization
process helps ensure that incident objectives can be achieved while responders and students remain
safe Lesson 3
ICS must be adopted by schools and all first responders It provides a seamless transition between school based
staff and local first responders such as police and fire personnel through a shared and viable Safety Plan It is of
utmost importance to have a viable Safety Plan that is operational and capable of supporting an effective response
until help arrives be it twenty minutes or three days A viable Safety Plan subsequently becomes the initial
Incident Action Plan A smooth transition from the initial school staff response to incident management directed
by police fire or medical personnel rests on the strength of the partnership with responders prior to an incident
Local Emergency Management should be required to review and advise schools on the viability of their plan
Incorporation of lessons learned from testing the plan ensures that possible gaps are identified and addressed
Rapid containment of the incident and the initial assessment of incident impact and damages are the first steps
towards the recovery phase
The fourth and final phase of incident management is Recovery Recovery is defined as long range actions taken
to restore the community to some degree of normalcy as quickly and completely as possible through the
provision of services and programs Within a school setting recovery usually includes a plan for academic
social emotional physical facilities and fiscal recovery Recovery actions may include cleaning the area
repairing the structure restoring disrupted services providing counseling or grief support and preparing for the
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resumption of classes Once started the Recovery phase often continues for a period of time There are usually
well devised albeit time consuming strategies for restoring the physical environment However restoring the
social and emotional environment is generally more complex
The complexity of recovery is most evident in urban settings where a large number of students are in recovery
mode Social emotional recovery is particularly complex because it entails numerous uncontrollable factors For
instance students often struggle with multiple recognized and unrecognized losses social and academic
disruptions and relational and informational fractures resulting from inadequate or inefficient response or
recovery decisions within the school the neighborhood and the broader community
Additionally schools may often have a social emotional recovery plan but offer little guidance to assist teachers
as they transition back to the core curriculum and some level of normalcy Granted teachers should not provide
mental health services However they are commonly among the first to recognize that a student is distressed and
increasingly they are referring those students immediately to the counselor In addition to being able to
recognize and refer distressed students teachers are asking for more guidance on providing an academic bridge
back to some semblance of normalcy through the curriculum Consequently in addition to struggling to adapt
the curriculum teachers are dealing with the stress of accommodating anxious students
School recovery plans should not only address the social emotional environment but also the physical facilities
and the financial impact The physical plant and financial management are often relegated to specific
departments and officials within the school district
In short pre planning for the four aspects of recovery academic social emotional physical plant and financial
management is key to ensuring safety and restoring normalcy in the school setting
In conclusion incident management provides the stages of managing an event NIMS ICS further identifies the
essential functions for preparedness and response and then standardizes these efforts for the nation including
schools This standardization is incorporated in school safety plans creating a safety network by establishing
partnerships around a shared plan with key community stakeholders
The Critical Role Of School Climate and the Taguiri Model
The aforementioned framework provides a foundation for structuring safety Safety is preparedness planning and
partnerships Safety is also the foundation for effectiveness and therefore growth Like the NIMS ICS safety
framework effectiveness also requires a framework To that end Taguiri s model is introduced to provide a
framework for defining and developing an effective school climate The passages that follow introduce the
Taguiri model and explore the four components of climate that establishes an effective school
An effective school is one with a positive school climate Climate is significant in that it either supports or
undermines meaningful student learning Climate also clearly involves multi dimensional sets of elements that
highlight social emotional organizational and cultural threats and dangers Taguri s model enhances the
readiness framework presented by NIMS by expanding the sphere of danger beyond the physical environment to
the relationships administrative structures and decision making problem solving practices that create situations
and conditions that can escalate rather than diminish unresolved conflicts
Taguri presents four components of organizational climate culture ecology milieu and organization or
structure According to Taguiri as articulated by Lindahl 2006 organizational culture includes
Assumptions values norms beliefs ways of thinking behavior patterns and artifacts this
definition seems to parallel closely many of the prominent authorities in the field However his
construct of organizational climate tends to be more encompassing than that of many of his peers
Within ecology he included buildings and facilities technology and pedagogical interventions
Within milieu Tagiuri subsumed the race ethnicity socio economic levels and gender of
organizational members and participants their motivation and skills and the organization s
leadership His organization or structure construct includes communication and decision making
patterns within the organization the organizational hierarchy and formal structures and the level
of bureaucratization Although this definition is so comprehensive as to resemble French and
Bell s 1998 organizational systems model and can somewhat blur the core definition of
organizational climate it serves as a good reminder of the interrelatedness of all these factors with
organizational climate and culture It also illustrates the broad range of organizational issues that
must be taken into consideration when planning for large scale organizational improvement p 4
Basically the role of culture and climate in schools are complex constructs because they are the by products of
human relational systems However because they are systems there are elements of culture and climate that can
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be explained Those elements have been categorized as four functions highlighted by the Taguiri model
Manipulating these four functions Culture Social systems Milieu and Ecology should assist schools in
creating and maintaining an effective school environment A diagram of the model follows The overlapping
circles demonstrate how the various components of climate build on and impact each other to create an effective
school environment
Unfortunately schools have been operating blindly Before NIMS ICS they were without a
consistent method for defining and evaluating safety With NIMS ICS schools can establish safety
as mitigation prevention readiness in responding to and recovering from a broad range of
incidents NIMS ICS provides schools with a formula for accountability and foresight It allows
schools to proactively allocate their resources and structure planning and preparedness to increase
environmental safety Through NIMS ICS clarity is provided through the incident cycle and across
schools districts agencies and jurisdictions However areas of blindness in the school community
To provide clarity on those blind spots we propose the use of Taguiri s systematic model of
climate The model provides depth or clarity by focusing on the essential elements of school
climate making lucid the physical emotional organizational and relational aspects of the
environment Furthermore it underscores the various relational connections that keep the school
environment safe Specifically the model shows that an effective school environment promotes
A a positive caring culture B responsive transparent administrative structure C
connectedness through membership and D physical safety as captured in Taguiri s ecology All
four elements reinforce school safety Additionally Taguiri s framework provides a correlation
between non instructional programs and services provided to students staff and families and the
formal curriculum classroom instruction and student achievement
Both the NIMS ICS framework and Taguiri s model provide scaffolds for the allocation of limited
school resources In addition both include proactive elements to assist schools in preparing for and
responding to incidents However while the NIMS ICS framework focuses on essential functions
and incident operations the Taguri s model focuses on the importance of meaningful relationships
in a school setting Developing a comprehensive model requires the integration of both essential
functions and meaningful relationships Further explanation of the four elements of Taguiri s model
Taguiri s first element and the broadest element of an effective school environment is culture
Culture is commonly defined as shared values or norms It was articulated and popularized by Asa
Hilliard 1991 as the way things are done around here Additionally culture is the conscious and
unconscious assumptions of how things operate including ideas about what is normal during
interactions who has power why how it is used and where one stands in relation to power It is
particularly the power aspect of culture that frames school staff behavior and assumptions
Therefore in identifying qualities that create safe responsible schools Safeguarding Our Children
An Action Guide Implementing Early Warning Timely Response 2000 first highlighted the beliefs
and behaviors of staff Moreover The Guide states in an effective school environment the staff is
compassionate caring respectful model appropriate behaviors create a climate of emotional
support and are committed to working with all students p 2 The behaviors identified in
Safeguarding Our Children are only evident on the part of staff when they themselves are treated
fairly and collaboratively When decision making is transparent and leadership is thoughtful and
strong then staff tends to assume that their basic need for safety has been met and they are better
able to focus on the needs of their students They in turn then articulate and model care and
concern to each other students and families In this manner the beliefs for the school community
are communicated and expectations are standardized and modeled
Expectations are the behavioral goals or norms that successful students adopt They often include
broad concepts such as being responsible respectful and a peaceful problem solver Teaching
behavioral expectations should be tied to the acknowledgment of students rights to a peaceful
predictable productive learning environment Additionally students rights must be connected to
their role as active responsible citizens and learners When students are provided with convincing
arguments for behavioral expectations rules then make sense Students can buy into the rules
because they believe them to be fair and or reasonable More importantly they understand how
they benefit from the environment that the rules create and protect Students can thereby connect
their right to a safe productive learning environment to their mutual responsibility to follow the
rules and model active citizenship
Rules are defined as codified behaviors that often have sanctions attached to them They are
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developed to provide clear boundaries for acceptable behaviors When acceptable behavior is
clearly communicated and consequences are equitably imposed then students learn it is important
to manage their own behaviors and furthermore that their behavior impacts the community
around them Specifically helping students understand why rules exist is part of creating an
effective school culture Ideally expectations rules and routines should be reviewed at the start of
the school year and provided in writing to families
To ensure an effective school climate school safety plans should also include cultural supports or
plans to promote a common positive culture of learning Despite race ethnicity or gender the
predominant values nurtured should promote student connectedness to a positive school
environment the high expectations held for each student and the caring relationships established
with the adults in the building Programs such as School Wide Effective Behavior Support orPositive
Behavioral Interventions and Supports PBIS explicitly set expectations identify teach model and
reinforce positive behavior for students and staff Thus they provide a continuum of structures and
procedures to promote positive behaviors Especially important with such programs is the training
and the behavioral expectation of all staff instructional and support staff in the building If every
interaction with a child results in some lesson being learned then training all staff on how to
recognize model and reinforce positive behavior is an essential aspect of achieving a positive
learning environment Furthermore while classroom management is one aspect of monitoring
student behavior equally important is supervision of students during non instructional times such
as lunchtime recess and during hallway transitions Managing student behavior during these social
times requires active supervision and all staff both instructional and support should be expected to
demonstrate reinforcement skills consistently
The necessity and importance of non instructional services and programs in schools specifically
programs and services such as non instructional staff as School Resource Officers School Police
personnel pro social curricula and counseling interventions are directly related to school climate
and safety Quite often schools are indifferent to non instructional services until routines are
disrupted by negative behaviors Staff often overlook the human element and operate as if
teaching and learning is primarily about the delivery of state and federally mandated information
and behavioral compliance True teaching and learning is a lesson in caring One cannot care and
ultimately remain unchanged and uninvolved Students teachers and staff must choose to care
Given various challenges in the school environment the individuals who are consistently available
to demonstrate a concerned ear an encouraging word or a word of caution are more often than
not the support staff Providing training to support staff on the modeling coaching and reinforcing
of pro social skills is a mitigation prevention measure that could be implemented
Developing and institutionalizing pro social norms through initiatives such as Single School Culture
providing social emotional supports through classroom instruction and schoolwide modeling and
reinforcement all require schools to partner in new and different ways with parents and other local
agencies to reinforce those skills across multiple environments such as the home environment and
the community Accomplishing these and similar tasks will require the empowerment of staff and
students to support in new and different ways Institutionalizing the new behaviors requires
structural backing and administrative support
Administrative Structure
Taguiri s second element is the social system that can also be referred to as the administrative
structure Changes in social interaction as introduced in the first element require administrative
support Specifically in addition to cultural supports an effective school climate includes the
following plans and supports for staff leadership clear comprehensive climate policy integrated
with academic policy streamlined transparent communication and decision making patterns a
stable organizational hierarchy a consistent system of recognition and enforcement an early
warning process for providing targeted interventions intensive interventions generally through
referral services strong communication channels between school and homes and equitable access
to positive social groups or clubs More to the point formal structures and processes provide
stability and predictability a sense of order and direction especially during times of change
Furthermore based on Taguiri s model the new structures and systems effectiveness is
determined by the degree to which they proactively engage and empower staff and students to
accomplish their educational goals Regretfully those goals are easily derailed by negative
School plans and supports should also include protocols for responding effectively to disruptive
behaviors This level of planning is critically important in elementary schools when early
intervention is often most effective Notes from a transcript from Safe And Drug Free Schools And
Communities Advisory Committee Meeting on Monday October 23 2006 echo similar concerns
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Early aggressive disruptive behavior is the most important risk factor we know that
tracks kids over the life course So I would say that we need to discuss integrating
information systems understanding the developmental trajectories and
understanding how this information can be used for formative issues like moving
teachers to be more skilled at managing classrooms Roughly 50 percent of first
grade teachers in Baltimore don t do it very well and have not gotten the training
About 50 percent can do it intuitively or whatever way In other words the teachers
who are socializing kids in the first grade are not able to do that
Basically children who exhibit aggressive behaviors at a young age are identifiable These children
can often be taught replacement behaviors that make it easier for them to successfully navigate the
classroom environment However most elementary classroom teachers and support staff are
unsuccessful at teaching and reinforcing pro social skills because they either lack the tools the
administrative support and or the tools they were provided were either ineffective or unproven
Teachers and staff need consistent effective supports for addressing problematic behaviors An
effective school climate provides policy plans protocols curricula training resources and time to
develop organizational goals based on caring and clearly articulated expectations Those supports
must begin in the classroom and expand throughout the entire school community
Evertson and Harris 1992 strongly believe that classroom management and classroom instruction
are interwoven and that the connection between the two is clearest from students perspective For
example students have two cognitive demands on them at all times academic task demands
understanding and working with content and social task demands interacting with others
concerning that content Thus in order to be successful students management and instruction
are intertwined p 74 Consequently part of the core curriculum for future teachers should be
courses on classroom management Instead of discovering independently how to integrate
management and instruction teachers should have guided experiences that emphasize that the
goal is not controlling behavior but in the words of Evertson Harris 1992 rather on creating
implementing and maintaining a learning environment within the classroom p 75 Increasing
the number of classrooms with positive learning environments would require teacher education to
include classes on integrating social skills curricula such as Second Step or I Can Problem Solve
across all content areas such as Social Studies Science History English and Physical Education
These curricula could be used to introduce positive behavioral skills while reinforcing information
from the various content areas Inclusion of pro social skills need not dominate instructional time
Various social skills curricula including Second Step emphasized that lessons should not be taught
everyday thereby leaving students time to practice the skills that were introduced In addition the
lesson could be chunked into 15 20 minutes portions
Adequate teacher preparation is one important aspect of managing classroom behaviors In
addition students should also arrive at school with some basic social skills However for a broad
range of reasons ranging from changes in family and community composition to the impact of
negative media images this is no longer the case In general many students lack the skills
necessary to navigate peacefully and effectively through various classroom interactions As a
society we can no longer assume that children arrive at school having learned pro social skills or
if these skills were learned that children had sufficient opportunity to practice pro social skills
elsewhere Therefore school wide implementation of an evidenced based curriculum is another
critical aspect of normalizing positive behaviors in schools However the multiple challenges of
daily school activities often make inclusion of a social skills curriculum difficult to adopt and fully
implement Given that all children can benefit from instruction in pro social skills and from the
opportunity to practice them the inclusion of an evidenced based social skills curriculum must be a
basic requirement for ensuring a positive school climate Furthermore schoolwide implementation
must include teaching modeling and reinforcing prosocial skills The Safety Plan should document
the entire process Such initiatives build a strong foundation for relational safety as represented
by Taguiri s Milieu or membership Moreover social skill instruction provides a natural and
necessary bridge between the classroom and non instructional environments
Milieu Connectedness Through Membership
Taguiri s third element is milieu or membership A sense of belonging and being connected to co
workers classmates and the school community is a significant factor in decreasing the likelihood of
negative adult and student behaviors In fact The Add Health study from the National Resilience
Resource Center 2004 found just one school variable to be consistently associated with positive
behaviors and resiliency The study reveals that the most important variable for adolescent health
is a school connectedness In particular connectedness is perceived as fair treatment meaningful
relationships and meaningful participation in the life of the school Caring relationships and high
expectations are particularly difficult to maintain when working with challenging students
However it is the challenging students in particular who need the supports identified above the
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most including the use of a pro social curriculum
An initial investment in pro social skill instruction reaps the end reward of additional teaching time
Teaching time is often limited because teachers may spend more time managing behavior rather
than providing academic instruction Admittedly learning is a social process In urban settings it
often takes place in the presence of more than thirty people Therefore academic success requires
students to consistently interact well with each other and with the teacher Student must be able
to manage strong emotions such as anger excitement or fear resist impulsive behavior such as
shouting out answers in class resolve conflicts that are often part of encountering differences
peacefully and consistently understand and predict the consequences of their actions Schools that
are unable to comprehensively incorporate the teaching and reinforcing of these skills while
addressing the additional social emotional needs of targeted students tend to spend more time
reacting and responding to incidents Having spent insufficient time at the top half of the incident
management cycle mitigating preventing preparing and planning for possible physical and
hazards they now spend an inordinate amount of time in the bottom half of the incident cycle
where the academic instruction is not the priority This same conclusion was drawn by the October
23 Safe and Drug free School and Communities Advisory Committee meeting Their observation
We looked at the schools that have been deemed as persistently dangerous by all
the states and then tried to find out where they were with their education progress
About 75 80 percent of those schools who were persistently dangerous were also in
need of adequate yearly progress and they were having challenges there
In summary particularly at the elementary level integrating pro social skills into the curriculum
and into the Safety Plan will positively impact instructional time and ultimately impact student
achievement
Social emotional needs at the middle and high school levels tend to become more complex
However Resnick Ireland and Borowsky 2004 tells us that the most salient predictors of
violence perpetration at the time of incidents were violence involvement and a history of violence
victimization Specifically by gender
For males repeating a grade and carrying a weapon to school were the next most
salient predictors followed by marijuana and alcohol use A history of treatment for
emotional problems as well as self reported learning problems comprised the final
significant predictors Among girls the most salient risk factors at time of incident
were violence involvement and prior violence victimization included carrying a
weapon to school alcohol use and emotional distress The latter was not a significant
risk factor for boys Marijuana use and having repeated a grade were the next most
salient risk factors Unique to the girls somatic complaints were a risk factor followed
by learning problems 424 e5
In short providing timely interventions and supports to students identified by these behaviors is
critical Supports should be standard procedure and as consistent as the academic supports
offered to students retained in grade Both groups of students are at risk for dropping out
stopping out and or perpetrating a violent act Victimization and weapon violations should
automatically result in immediate consequences where necessary in addition to social emotional
supports These supports should include
Additional opportunities to learn practice prosocial skills including emotion management and
impulse control perhaps through a service learning projects
Opportunities to develop and practice leadership skills including refusal and communication
strategies perhaps through the development of a social marketing campaigns volunteer
opportunities and internships
Opportunities to identify and explore post secondary goals
Opportunities to develop a meaningful relationship with a caring adult
Delayed interventions generally results in many of these students being caught in the crosshairs of
the school s disciplinary process and or the legal system Theoretically the disciplinary process is
designed to assist students as they connect their decisions and actions to academic and social
consequences However meaningful dialog seldom occurs during this process and the student
learns few if any positive lessons The result is a pattern of repeated offenses and suspensions
that often ends with delinquency Unfortunately the initial red flag of violence involvement and or
a history of violence victimization are often unidentified and overlooked
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Regrettably given the large number of students who could potentially need supports missing the
initial red flag in some instances is bound to occur Still schools with parental support must
develop and implement strategies and protocols designed to identify and assist targeted students
with necessary interventions in a timely manner K 12 Coordinator Online Event on Truancy agrees
that admittedly schools cannot address all the issues and problems that some students bring
along with them still studies show that schools can play a major role in how students feel about
attending Day 2 p 1 Furthermore if the problem impacts the student s ability to learn schools
have an obligation to assist in resolving the problem Moreover protective factors for these
students include improved grade point average and a sense of connectedness to adults outside of
the family Therefore schools and the various social agencies serving these students need to
deepen communication channels and implement a shared action plan to assist students to access
services while making academic progress
Ecology Physical Safety
Taguiri s fourth and final element is ecology The ecology or physical safety is often the first
aspect of safety to be addressed Given increased threats and incidents targeting students and
schools supports in physical safety have increased drastically over the years to include hand held
scanners buzzers and cameras on doors single manned entry points and trained safety
personnel Schools are also institutionalizing mitigation techniques such as Crime Prevention
Through Environmental Design CPTED hazard assessments and identification early warning
systems identification of hot spots where higher number of incidents tend to occur and judicious
use of a staff deployment plan to address the hot spots systematic coordinated dissemination of
vital information and joint training and exercises to increase the physical safety of the school
environment However Taguiri s model encourages school personnel to broaden their
understanding of physical safety to include an examination and review of items such as signage
pictures sculptures or other artifacts that could potentially alienate community members rather
than embrace and reassure them
In summary Taguiri s model provides schools with a four element framework for examining a
broad range of factors that could strengthen or negate school climate While schools tend to
operate in silos Taguiri s model integrates academic behavioral and safety initiatives Additionally
the elements in the model all cascade spiral and at times bleed into each other Each element
impacts upon each other and as school staff move around the spiral each element presents a
different perspective of their school environment depending on where one stands in relation to the
model The varying perspectives allow school staff to identify and develop specific
recommendations for strengthening their Safety Plan and the various partnerships that support it
A Comprehensive School Safety Model and Persistently Dangerous Schools
In reviewing the major points established thus far this paper finds that safety as been defined as
preparedness planning and partnerships Additionally an effective school environment has been
defined as a climate with a positive comprehensive integrated framework that connects the formal
curriculum to both the relational administrative and physical aspects of safety while supporting
student achievement Having established the importance of a safe effective school environment
this paper will now examine persistently dangerous schools and with the use of both models make
recommendations to address the safety issues that plague them
Under the No Child Left Behind Act each state is required to define persistently dangerous and
develop its own criteria to identify unsafe schools States had to certify that they met this provision
to receive federal funds The goal of the Act was to place pressure on schools and districts to
institute reform inform parents about the school s climate and provide families with alternative
choices Granted the mitigation prevention preparedness and recovery best practices identified
from the use of the two models will focus on persistently dangerous schools however many of our
nation s school do experience violent incidents ranging from shoving and punching bullying and
fights to stabbing and shootings According to Cornell 2005
Violence and threats of violence that do not result in homicide are all too common in
our schools According to a national survey of school principals Miller 2003 in
1999 2000 an estimated 1 5 million violent incidents occurred in public schools more
than 92 percent of secondary schools 87 percent of middle schools and 61 percent of
elementary schools reported at least one incident p 17
Therefore because violent incidents in schools can and do occur all of the nations schools could
benefit from a risk assessment analysis beginning with the essential questions facing persistently
dangerous schools
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object Page 11 of 14
What is an acceptable threshold for negative behavior
What should we do for students who are potentially dangerous
Furthermore all schools can also benefit from identified recommendations
In view of the fact that Philadelphia Pennsylvania is the city with the highest reported number of
dangerous incidents it serves as a catalyst for rich discussion about the context for violence in
schools Therefore the passages that follow highlights and summarizes related safe schools
policies in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Education PDE places the threshold for dangerous behavior at
felonious action that endanger others in the community Thereby
A persistently dangerous schools is any public elementary secondary or charter school that during
the previous year met any of the following criteria
School enrollment is 250 students or less and there are at least 5 dangerous incidents
School enrollment is between 251 1000 students and the number of dangerous incidents
reported is at least 2 of the school enrollment
School enrollment is over 1000 students and there are at least 20 dangerous incidents
Dangerous incidents include
Possession of weapons such as guns or knives resulting in arrest
Violent incidents such as homicide kidnapping robbery sexual offenses and aggravated
assaults resulting in arrest Student Services and Programs Home
Incidents may occur on school grounds regardless of the time or the day or to students as they
travel to and from school In essence when incidents become violent or potentially felonious
they are considered dangerous Anecdotally when disruptive behaviors become disorderly conduct
and students refuse to disperse resulting in multiple arrests consequent to the multiple arrests the
school climate is also considered potentially dangerous
For the last three years Philadelphia has had the highest concentration of persistently dangerous
schools in the nation The state originally identified 27 Philadelphia schools in 2003 In 2007 that
number dropped to 12 If this designation were the only indicator of school climate attending or
working in a Philadelphia school would be a very risky venture However those same schools also
have malfunctioning membership and ecology The assumption of strong membership is based on
statements made at The Safe And Drug Free Schools And Communities 2006 Advisory Committee
Meeting The statements reveal that
Last year Pennsylvania with several determinations of persistently dangerous
school had 12 students transfer because of the determination of persistently
dangerous schools In other words 12 students opted to go to another school
because their school had been deemed persistently dangerous Throughout the state
47 students transferred because they had been the victims of a violent crime
Thus we see more Pennsylvanians transferring because of victimization rather than because of
determination One conclusion that can be drawn from the transfer pattern identified above could
be that the attending families feel some sense of connectedness Despite the persistently
dangerous label it is still their district school Moreover their originally assigned school is still
preferable to an unknown alternative Therefore when offered a choice that allows them to opt out
of the persistently dangerous school most families choose not to exercise that choice Their school
remains their school by choice Consequently for Pennsylvanians there does not appear to be a
causal link between school determination and transfer rather the correlation is between incidence
of victimization and a request to transfer Further as the rising victimization number indicates for
many students and their families the core issue is eliminating the threat of danger at best or
surviving actual incidents at worst
The popular solution to address the threat of danger present at most schools is to increase the
security measures more personnel more devices and stricter policies and strategies However
although such responses may be reasonable they are too narrow in scope and equally important in
isolation such measures are ineffective If schools only manipulate security measures then they
have addressed only one of Taguiri s elements ecology By only addressing ecology they have
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gained momentary compliance Unless the other elements are also tackled the temporary one
dimensional pressure provided by security resources will eventually become ineffective against the
onslaught of increasingly unmet needs and escalating negative behaviors However the use of
Taguiri s model provides schools with insight and a prolonged systemic strategy to combat negative
or inappropriate behaviors most often rooted in inappropriate beliefs about violence and
fragmented communication and decision making supports Taguiri s first element for assisting
schools to create and maintain an effective environment is to address the culture The first step in
changing the culture is to challenge students beliefs about violence
Culture and Persistently Dangerous Schools
Most of the schools identified as persistently dangerous are high schools Threatening and
assaulting behaviors have a prescribed response The behaviors that tend to get a significant
number of students arrested are fights and weapons Often times the students who are arrested
state that they no longer trust schools or the police Additionally they do not trust the adults
representing those systems to deal with them or their situation fairly The lack of trust is
reportedly connected to the unresponsiveness of many adults to their voice and to their concerns
Subsequently these students often seek their own satisfaction regardless of personal cost or
consequence
In examining the school s culture it is evident that the school administration is starting from a
position of distrust They have the authority to act but lack the mutual respect trust or requisite
fairplay needed to establish and maintain an effective school climate Students believe in their own
abilities or the abilities of their peers or sometimes their parents to solve the issues to their
satisfaction and bring final resolution to the conflict they face at school and in the community
Change will require student involvement from the inception and their on going participation in the
development of a culture that shows them they are valued and respected Use of direct instruction
of pro social skills would further their distrust and encourage further resistance Additionally most
pro social skills curricula are geared towards elementary and middle school students There is a
need for a high school initiative with creative collaboration from the various social service agencies
the criminal justice system and recreation and sports industries Partnerships among these entities
could be prominent in any of the following three proposals
The development of a youth driven social marketing campaign aimed at teens with the goal
of advocating peaceful problem solving and career goal setting
Service learning projects where content areas are linked to the real life issue of violence
The development of a shared story Students often feel they have a story to share but no
one is listening and further their story is dramatically different from the stories of teachers
and staff at school Through various media projects the stories of students and others
could be captured The telling of the story could center on overcoming challenges of violence
and dropout factories to obtain an equitable public education
Each of the preceding cultural change proposals aims to engage teens in a meaningful dialog with
each other adults and community agencies Together these teens and their school through
dialog can establish common goals In so doing this approach exemplifies the use of Taguiri s
cultural element to reestablish an effective school environment
Administrative Structure and Persistently Dangerous Schools
A collaborative approach such as the projects proposed above is also based on cooperation and
partnership and reflects the administrative style advocated in Taguiri s social system Each project
requires collaboration and partnership and empowers participants through shared leadership and
learning As demonstrated by previous examples an effective administrative structure recognizes
the voice and concerns of students who are at risk institutionalizes transparent streamlined
decision making and maneuvers formal and informal communication channels to effect meaningful
lasting changes
Milieu or Membership and Persistently Dangerous Schools
Taguiri s third element milieu or membership has been partially addressed by default Families
seem to be connected to their schools In general when given a choice students attending
persistently dangerous schools have not opted to attend a different school Their presence
however does not necessarily indicate that they feel safe visible relaxed and or valued These
safety concerns are reflected in poor academic progress high rates of absenteeism and high
truancy numbers Granted the level of disorder in the school is often a reflection of the social and
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object Page 13 of 14
economic disruption within the community However similarly to bullying the school can establish
a culture of caring and accountability that to some extent mitigates the impact of negative
Ecology and Persistently Dangerous Schools
Finally Taguiri s fourth element the ecology of schools in Pennsylvania has been addressed by the
Auditor General s school safety and security checklist The checklist requires schools to have the
following a memorandum of understanding with its local law enforcement agency on reporting acts
of violence on school property a comprehensive safety plan a visitation identification process for
students staff and visitors school security features including limited school access through single
entry and egress points designated safety personnel an emergency communications system and
related training for staff faculty and students In short it requires schools to incorporate NIMS ICS
into school plans and protocols thereby proactively addressing issues of physical safety
Although schools must implement NIMS ICS without Taguiri s model they remain particularly
vulnerable to incidents stemming from relational tensions that increasingly result in violence
Vulnerability is even more of an issue for persistently dangerous schools where the culture
administrative structure milieu and or the ecology are fragmented However when both models
are applied schools may be better prepared to protect lives prevent injury minimize property
damage and equally important create a caring effective learning environment by strengthening
the safety network within school
Recommendations
Based on NIMS ICS and Taguiri s model the passages that follow highlights the recommendations
of the authors The recommendations aim to decrease fragmentation across the school
environment promote healthy schools increase teacher effectiveness and support safety and
student achievement
Our first recommendation focuses on the Recovery phase of NIMS ICS and offers two suggestions
Quite often recovery services are offered immediately after the event with minimum follow up and
little connection to prior incidents or violence related factors To ensure that students are able to
relax focus and learn all service providers whether schools or community based should receive
the same training Shared preparation and expectations ensures that students are screened for
violence related factors and referred to the appropriate clinical and community resources
Additionally because incidents will occur schools must provide guidance for teachers within the
academic curriculum At minimum schools should provide teachers with professional development
on how to transition students back to the curriculum after varying intervals of disruption short
term of a week or less intermediate disruptions lasting between one to four weeks and extended
disruptions such as a pandemic lasting for more than a month
Our second recommendation is for schools to move from a fragmented approach to an integrated
framework using Taguiri s model Using the model the first action step would be to address the
culture starting with the beliefs of teachers and staff In the face of tremendous economic social
behavioral and academic difficulties it is challenging for many school staff to embrace the notion
that despite obstacles they can make a lasting difference in the lives of their students Belief in the
power to make a positive difference through comprehensive prevention efforts self reflection and
training is the first step in adopting Taguiri s model of climate and an effective school environment
Our third recommendation is the continued use of NIMS ICS NIMS ICS through the Safety Plan
establishes a framework for analyzing situations resources and response patterns When used to
address the problem of escalating violence or other safety issues schools have a common
workable framework for collaborating with a wide range of partners to address the problem
comprehensively
Our fourth recommendation would be to use NIMS ICS to extend safety beyond school gates and
into our students homes Development and articulation of partnership roles and responsibilities are
integral to NIMS ICS Parent partnership must be encouraged to address behavior in two areas 1
the reinforcement of social skills necessary for the classroom home workplace and the community
and 2 the monitoring of media activity and influence that undermine and denigrate pro social
In closing when faced with danger or the threat of danger there is always the choice to fight back
or flee When the danger is a national epidemic like youth violence and failing schools then
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object Page 14 of 14
fighting back effectively must include the development of a comprehensive integrated
collaborative approach such as the one offered by NIMS ICS and Taguiri s Pennsylvania needs a
broad consistent and powerful framework to produce meaningful dialogue and strategies that
support safe effective schools This paper has proposed a marriage between two models to
structure that effort The thoughtful integration of these models give schools an aggressive and
cohesive approach that connects daily classroom routines to local and national mandates More
importantly it provides schools with a paradigm that informs and equips teachers and
administrators with a proactive scaffold for developing integrated policies strategies and protocols
References
Cornell D G 2005 Guidelines for responding to student threats of violence Persistently Safe
Schools 2005 The National Conference of the Hamilton Fish Institute On School And Community
Violence Curry School of Education University of Virginia Charlottesville Virginia
Dwyer K Osher D 2000 Safeguarding Our Children An Action Guide Washington D C
U S Departments of Education and Justice American Institutes for Research
Evertson C M Harris A H 1992 What we know about managing classrooms
EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 49 7 74 78
Lindahl R 2006 March 2 The Role of Organizational Climate and Culture in the School
Improvement Process A Review of the Knowledge Base Retrieved from the Connexions Web site
http cnx org content m13465 1 1
Resnick M D Ireland M Borowsky I 2004 Youth Violence Perpetration What Protects
What Predicts Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health JOURNAL OF
ADOLESCENT HEALTH 2004 35 424 e1 424 e10
School Safety In The 21st Century Adapting To New Security Challenges Post 9 11 Report of the
conference Schools Prudent Preparation for a
Catastrophic Terrorism Incident October 30 31 2003 The George Washington
The Emergency Management Institute Introduction to ICS for Schools IS 100 for Schools Federal
Emergency Management Agency Retrieved from website
http training fema gov EMIWeb is is100sc asp
The Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools U S Department of Education 2007 Practical
Information on Crisis Planning A Guide for Schools and Communities Washington D C
The Office of Safe And Drug Free Schools And Communities U S Department of Education
Advisory Committee Meeting Monday October 23 2006 Barnard Auditorium 400 Maryland
Avenue S W
Pennsylvania Department of Education Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Approved
Standards for Persistently Dangerous Schools Retrieved from state department website Retrieved
11 12 2007
http www pde state pa us svcs students cwp view asp a 141 q 93313
1 NickelMines refers to the Amish schoolhouse shooting incident that occurred in Nickel Mines
Pennsylvania on Monday October 2 2006 Five students died and five others were critically injured
before the gunman shot himself
Comment on this article
http urbanedjournal org archive Vol 205 20Iss 202 20Order 20in 20Schools Articles Article 2 4 8 2009


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