Report Shows More Than 99% of Kentucky Schools Meet New Safety Standards
State Schools Safety Marshal Ben Wilcox this week released the 2021-2022 School Risk Assessment Report indicating improvement across Kentucky’s 173 school districts with respect to the safety and security of students and staff. Commonwealth staff.
Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, a former principal and educator, said administrators, teachers and students have made the necessary commitment to maintain a safe learning environment for all who work and learn in school buildings across the city. ‘State.
“The Beshear-Coleman administration is an education-focused administration. We will always put the safety of students and school staff first, and the Commonwealth has established a strong Critical Incident Prevention Plan that is working, as this report demonstrates,” Lieutenant Governor Coleman said.
Governor Andy Beshear’s $18.2 million budget allocation has helped schools fund measures needed for safer entrances and exits, 99.53% of Kentucky schools are compliant with safety and security law School Resilience (SSRA), based on compliance checks conducted during the 2021-2022 school year.
“The tragedy in Uvalde, Texas reminds us that all security mandates must be adhered to to maintain the integrity of a multi-layered security approach,” Marshal Wilcox said. “The Safe and Resilient Schools Act provides a common-sense approach to building safety, mental health advocacy, emergency planning, law enforcement engagement and staff training. Although our compliance numbers are high, we must continue to work to close the gap to 100% compliance. Our goal is always the safest learning environment for our children.
The SSRA was signed into law in March 2019, requiring Kentucky school districts to be held accountable for the safety and security of Commonwealth students and staff. The SSRA required that a registered school risk assessment be completed by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, and each year thereafter, as required by law.
The Office of the State School Security Marshal (OSSSM), housed within the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, assessed facilities in all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts for compliance with SSRA mandates. Unable to adjust to a new post-pandemic normal, school leaders faced challenges but continued to focus on one thing: the children of Kentucky.
“Our main recommendation for the new school year is that teachers and staff have a plan for critical incidents in schools, that districts maintain emergency operations plans, and that teachers continue to keep classrooms safe. , exterior doors and main entrances,” Marshal Wilcox said at the conference today. press conference. “We must also continue to work together to assign a school resource officer to every campus in the state and achieve the goal of one school mental health professional per 250 students.”
The OSSSM comprises 15 compliance officers who are assigned to Commonwealth school districts and assess compliance with the ASRH with the school principal, school resource officers and school safety coordinators. A security assessment is carried out regarding measures such as electronic locking of entrance doors, monitoring, locking of classroom doors during teaching hours, classroom window coverings, a team school-based threat assessments, emergency operation plans for various scenarios including fires, severe weather, earthquakes or building closures and evacuation routes.
OSSSM Compliance Officers are often local members of the community who are a trusted resource and are invested in creating a stronger and safer place for children to learn.
Since taking office in late 2019, the Beshear-Coleman administration has consistently demonstrated its commitment to keeping Kentucky children safe on campus and in the classroom.
In April 2022, the Governor signed House Bill 63, which introduces new requirements for School Resource Officers (SROs) for school districts. The new law requires every campus to have an ORS by August 1, 2022, if possible. The law further provides that “if sufficient funds and qualified personnel are not available for this purpose for each campus, the local school board shall meet the requirements of this subsection on a per-campus basis, as approved in writing by the public school”. safety marshal, until a certified School Resource Officer is assigned and works on-site, full-time, at each campus in the district.
The Department of Criminal Justice Training provides SROs with 120 hours of specialized training, in addition to basic law enforcement response for work in schools. These include mental health awareness lessons, skills for working with students with special needs, cultural diversity and active shooter response.
All 173 school districts in Kentucky were required to submit their safety plan to the OSSSM for review in August. Currently, the OSSSM is able to report that over 50% of Kentucky school campuses are equipped with an ORS as defined by HB 63. Since Governor Beshear enacted HB 63, this represents a 21% increase in SROs who have been tasked with protecting Kentucky schools, ensuring children and staff have a safe learning environment.
HB 63 also grants the ability for a school to establish a police department. The possibility of creating a school police department provides a more jurisdictional definition of school police officers while allowing the school police department to apply for grants to help hire ORS.
This approach gives school districts three choices for placing ORS on each campus:
• Collaborate with local law enforcement agencies to assign an officer to each campus;
• Hire and mandate an officer certified by the Professional Standards for Police Officers (POPS) to become a Special Law Enforcement Officer (SLEO); Where
• Create a school police department with the approval of the board.
In the fall of 2021, Lieutenant Governor Coleman partnered with the Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council, Kentucky Regional Educational Co-operatives, Kentucky Department of Behavioral Health in Cabinet for the Health and Family Services and the Firm’s Youth Family Resource Service Division. Centers to create the Student Mental Health Action Summits. The roundtables were created to hear directly from students and gather data that could be used to better address student mental health.
Recently, students joined the Lieutenant Governor in presenting the Team Kentucky Student Mental Health initiative and their policy recommendations following last fall’s Student Mental Health Action Summits at the Interim Joint Committee on education of the Kentucky Legislature in Frankfort.
The recommendations are:
• Include and elevate student voice;
• Offer comprehensive suicide prevention;
• Authorize excused absences for mental health reasons;
• Expand access to mental health services and treatment;
• Increase mental health awareness and education; and
• Increase and improve professional development in mental health.
This year, Governor Beshear signed House Bill 44 allowing school district attendance policies to include provisions for excused absences for mental or behavioral health reasons. The bill ensures that a student can ensure they are mentally fit for class without facing the repercussions of wasted time.
“We all know that the pandemic has come with its own set of challenges and has certainly created issues that none of us had to deal with before, but what it has also done is it has exacerbated the elders,” Lt. Gov. Coleman said during testimony to the Interim Joint Committee on Education Aug. 16.
Kentucky Cabinet of Justice and Public Safety