Superintendents' Unveil School Safety Blueprint

Superintendents' Unveil School Safety Blueprint

Suffolk County School Superintendent’s Association: Blueprint for Action to Enhance School Safety

The Suffolk County School Superintendents’ Association has created a multipoint action plan that proposes adding more security officers in schools, adopting legislation to upgrade buildings’ safety and adding financial support for the ramped-up measures.

The group’s “Blueprint for Action” was shared Monday morning with Suffolk County law enforcement and the office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.  It is the latest local development focused on heightening school security since mass school shootings in Parkland, Florida in February and Santa Fe, Texas, in May.

The group’s blueprint calls for action by several entities, including local law enforcement, the state Legislature and the federal government.  It points to the need for both physical and personnel upgrades in districts, as well as measures to boost student well-being.

The new blueprint says more investment in the School Resource Officer program in necessary so that those law enforcement officers are available to schools across Suffolk County and involved in training staff and developing safety plans.  It notes that while having an officer in every school building daily is not feasible, “expanding access to this resource as broadly as possible through our school system is a worthy objective.”

Further support for the emotional and mental health of children is part of the plan.  New York is the first state in the nation to require mental health education as a component of health education in state law, with regulations that went into effect July 1 mandating that public and charter schools include mental health in the curriculum.

The superintendent’s group asks the county, the state and school districts work together to offer programs such as that offered by the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise – training for students and adults on spotting signs that may lead to gun violence – and anti-gang initiatives to help students make healthy associations.  Sandy Hook Promise was founded after a gunman killed 26 children and staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The Suffolk superintendents’ group also recommended exploring monitoring of social media for at-risk behaviors.

The plan also says state lawmakers should seek to have New York’s SAFE Act, the gun-regulation law written in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting, apply at the federal level and create a state funding stream specifically to pay for security measures.  In addition, the blueprint says districts’ security cost should be exempted from the state-imposed property-tax cap, much as certain construction costs are exempt in those calculations.

The blueprint also asks for changes in election law that would give school districts the ability to appeal a designation as a polling place – a right held by some other public buildings, such as firehouses.

Please follow these links from the SCSSA for more information

SCSSA Blueprint for School Safety
SCSSA Blueprint for Action