Necessary Elements of Our School Safety Plan

1.   Metal Detectors in Middle and High Schools

To create a warm, welcoming environment provide greeters every morning outside of the school to greet students and parents at every school.

A student bringing a gun or a knife into a school is not a safe school

We can explain to our youth that metal detectors are a common piece of safety equipment in public places including Boston City Hall, courthouses, federal buildings, airports, schools, TD Garden, Six Flags, and Canobie Lake Park.

Metal Detectors do not criminalize our children or make schools feel like a prison.   
Example:  In a previous generation seat belts were not used in cars for adults or children but have become a common safety feature for travel.  The child may feel the seat belt is too confining and restricting but a responsible parent is able to teach the child that it is necessary for safety and may save their life.  We believe we can also teach our children the necessity of metal detectors. 

A challenge is that there are many doors in school buildings and the doors have to be accessible for people to leave the building in an emergency. 

It is important to supplement metal detectors at the front door with alarms and cameras positioned near other doors in the school.

The cameras need to be monitored

The alarm signal must go to the office and the office then alerts the appropriate security

Utilize random metal detectors at K-8 schools

Make metal detectors permanent at High Schools. 

This must be a city-wide policy and not left up to individual principals in order to have consistency.

Look at the models of Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia with mobile metal detectors.

Provide random community checks to confirm exterior doors are secure.

Diagnostically have conversations with students to learn why students are bringing guns and knives to school

2.  School police

Return to BPS School Police

We had two separate law enforcement entities in Boston addressing school safety, the Boston Public School Police, and the Boston Police Department School Unit.   For many people, these two entities have been confused in conversation about “school police” so it is important to understand the purpose and distinction between these two entities.

BPS school police were employees of the Boston Public Schools, stationed inside Boston schools, were unarmed, but had police powers.  They were people from the community who built relationships with the students and provided important early intervention before school situations escalated.  BPS school police function in three important and interrelated roles, law enforcer, mentor, and educator.  While law enforcer is one role and a necessary role to deal with serious school safety issues, the roles of mentor and educator are a greater percentage of the function of BPS school police officers within the school setting. We are advocating for a return to this model.  We are also advocating for more school police as the current school safety officer force has been reduced from 76 to 34 officers for the entire Boston school system.

BPD school unit are Boston police officers not located in schools but available to respond to school safety issues.  This unit serves all students within the city of Boston including the more than 70,000 public and private school students.   They address public safety issues as students travel to and from schools into local communities.  The BPD school unit officers also build relationships with the students and function in the roles of law enforcer, mentor, and educator.   They are involved in early intervention strategies like Operation Homefront which was an outreach to struggling students and families.  Diversion and intervention are key elements of the BPD school unit strategy.  There are currently seven BPD school unit officers.

3.  Comprehensive early intervention strategy.

Firm, consistent rules and loving discipline is essential for a good safety plan.

Bad behavior needs an appropriate consequence within the school. 

Provide a clear understanding of behavioral standards and the process of addressing behavioral issues.

Give clear guidelines for parents to appeal a school’s decision about safety concerns. 

Provide for parent advocates who understand the school’s code of conduct and the rights of students in order to help parents address school safety issues.

Provide legal support for parents in understanding their rights and the rights of the student.

Bullying must be addressed in a timely manner by consistent adherence to the superintendent’s circular on bullying and yearly staff training about bullying.

Annual system-wide survey of students about the school safety climate in the school they attend to be reviewed and analyzed at school site councils and by deputy superintendents in charge of each school and made available to the public.

             

There must be a School Student Support Team for each school.

The School Student Support Team meets weekly.

Bad behavior can be used diagnostically to look at the underlying issues.

We need to provide guidance and healing.

Identify escalated behavior that needs diagnostic intervention

The School Student Support Team will develop a plan for students who are exhibiting disruptive behavior in the school.  We need an interdisciplinary approach.

The School Student Support Team will connect students and families with community resources.

Identify students who are excessively absent and provide appropriate outreach to the family including translation services.

“If it takes a village to raise a child, we must connect the child to the village.”

The School Student Support Team can use existing community resources like Youth Connect, Roca, health center resources, and youth activity resources (sports, arts, learning activities).  We need affordable programs for youth in the community.

The BPS use of FERPA has made it difficult for good communication between schools and community, so we need a re-examination of FERPA to address appropriate privacy issues but also enable a connection between the school, the student, the parents, and community resources

 

We need an early intervention strategy for students in K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades

Determine behaviors that will bring about an early intervention plan

Good communication between parents, school, community

We need an early intervention strategy for middle school students

Determine behaviors that will bring about an early intervention plan

Good communication between parents, school, community

Utilize proven intervention strategies like Operation Homefront which needs to be fully implemented as a school and community partnership

We need an early invention strategy for court-involved youth

 Utilize the diversion programs through the D.A.’s office

Develop a formal agreement between BPS and the D.A.’s office to protect individual privacy and also share information that assists the program to help a student succeed in school.

Explore strategies for anonymous reporting of safety issues.                   

Examine using an app on phones that could be used by students to report safety concerns

Examine the panic button technology that is given to teachers like in Palm Beach County

Provide clear system-wide protocols for sexual assault incidents

When an incident is reported by a student to school personnel that information will be given to the designated school administrator who will then call the Crimes Against Children unit in the BPD.  We are concerned with protecting victims, giving a timely response, and bringing trained professionals to investigate the incident and provide the appropriate response.

We need a strategy to address student social media use

Address the use of social media which is sometimes used to bully other students.

Develop a system-wide strategy to respond to TikTok challenges to do dangerous behavior

Utilize the district attorney's resources to teach youth about the dangers of “sexting.”

Promote vocational training as a legitimate educational option for students.

 Vocational training should be recognized as an equal educational option to the college prep track

  Build on the existing vocational educational opportunities in BPS and in the community

Utilize pre-apprentice programs through the union (Electricians, Carpenters). 

Study Alternative Schools by forming a committee made up of BPS and community members who will evaluate alternative school programming with the BPS system and outside the BPS system.  

Utilize the Boston Fire Department Fire Sense Program

 BPS must utilize this program to respond to students who falsely pull fire alarms disrupting the school day and pulling key firefighting resources away from legitimate calls in the community.  The curriculum is designed to educate participants on the risks of engaging in fire-involved conduct and foster safer decision-making.

Develop a safe passage plan for students traveling to and from school. 

It is critical to have good communication between schools and MBTA police, BPD School Police officers, and community outreach workers, and clergy to preclude serious safety issues happening at subway stations and on public transportation.

Develop a clear, updated MOU between BPS, BPD, and MBTA police in order to have clear lines of communication that address the intersection of serious school and community safety issues.