School Safety

SACs are required to adopt school improvement plans that must include, "specific school safety and discipline strategies. 

F.S. 1001.42 "Beginning in 1999-2000, each plan shall also address issues relative to budget, training, instructional materials, technology, staffing, student support services, specific school safety and discipline strategies, and other matters of resource allocation, as determined by school board policy, and shall be based on an analysis of student achievement and other school performance data."

Parents, community, educators, & legislators all share concerns about school safety.  FL-SAC discussion has shared some ideas for safety that may be implemented at any school:
Student Picture ID's
Monitor's at Entrance Gate
Uniforms
Drug Testing

STUDENT PICTURE ID's

PRO: The plastic cards are catching on fast with administrators looking for ways to make schools safer. Hanging around necks or clipped to front pockets, the badges differentiate those who belong from those who don't. The IDs also carry important information, which is crammed into bar codes or signified by colored stripes and stickers.   Many schools require students to carry photo identification, but Gateway High School was the first in Osceola to require children to wear it.  The cards are free, although the cost of replacing lost ones vary by campus from between $2 and $5.The system for making the badges is not so cheap, though. Officials spend thousands of dollars for the software and materials, which may be one reason more campuses are not yet using them. (parts taken from the Orlando Sentinel)


PRO:  "Students and staff at our high schools wear IDs and, yes, they double as lunch cards (this helps free and reduced lunch recipients feel more comfortable - less conspicuous). Same with the ID badges for administrators downtown - cafeteria food is credited against accounts."  (Submitted by Sharon D., Hillsborough)


PRO:  "We are an elementary, but teachers have badges that are not mandatory, but they help..... When teachers wear badges, and parents coming on campus wear visitor badges, unauthorized folks are more easily visible. This is also safer for students, who can identify who is a "safe" parent volunteer and who has simply wandered on campus. Who knows, this could even save a life. " (submitted by John P., Hillsborough)


CON:  ..."the ID's give everyone a false sense of security, just as mesh and clear vinyl backpacks do. My daughter attends Gateway high (Osceola county) and is required to wear an ID at all times, the rule is loosely enforced. I don't care if she has to wear one but I don't believe that it makes her any safer. Just as I don't believe a backpack that can be seen through makes her any safer. If a student wants to get a weapon or drugs onto campus they will find a way." (submitted by S.)


 

PRO:..."if students can easily be identified by ID's that can be seen, we might better protect them from strangers who  would walk onto an open campus without a second thought. Which would be best...students wearing IDs, or a school that is locked down during the day to look like a prison. If giving up personal freedom by wearing a student ID, and freedom of movement saves only one child, I am in favor of it. I'm not sure that student ID would be effective for elementary, but would definitely in middle and high school.  (submitted by Nina C., Kissimmee)                                                                                                 


 

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CON:  School IDs on a chain around a neck can become a tool for strangling a child and also a tool for some pedophile to quickly learn a 
child's name on the way to school. I am yet to be persuaded that requiring children to wear ID's is good for children, and the idea of punishing a child for not wearing an ID. appears totally misguided. (submitted by Dave M., Manatee)


CON:  They tell parents not to place the child's name where people can see it. Yet, we WANT our schools to do it?

Students who lose their badges are often charged up to $5.00 for a replacement. If they cannot afford to replace, they receive a detention (or suspension) every day they are not wearing the badge...

Yes, badges do help identify that someone may or may not belong on campus .... what is stopping someone from "off campus" from wearing a badge that belongs to someone "on campus." (submitted by Patti, Broward Co.) 


PRO:   I DO LIKE the fact that students use these ID's for library passes, lunch charges, etc. That makes perfect sense but should we put this information around their necks? Additionally, a lot of districts use the students Social Security Number as their student ID number. That is a real brain blower... Put their SSN around their neck too?  (submitted by Patti, Broward Co.) 


MONITORS AT THE ENTRANCE GATE

PRO:  I do feel that our monitors at the entrance gate have helped some, they keep track of who enters and leaves campus. If you are not a student your license is recorded. I know that this will not prevent someone from driving in with a weapon but it may deter them at times. But nothing can make our schools completely safe. They would be safer if they were about 1/2 the size but since that is not going to happen we need to just teach our own children to be as safe as humanly possible. (submitted by Sandee)

 

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UNIFORMS

PRO:  Uniforms - Several friends in other cities have told me they have found uniforms to be a bonus in safety as well as behavior. One said his school's behavior referrals went down and the data connected it with use of uniforms. There was also less "drifting" (kids leaving campus to wander nearby or leaving for lunch). Many of our school have uniform policies set by SAC.  (Submitted by Sharon D., Hillsborough)


PRO:  "I also like uniforms. We are adjacent to a middle school, but the students are not supposed to stray from their own campus. When we see student in the hallway, we know from their uniform which school they go to. It also helps at the middle school if we have a student who decides to go AWOL over there.....I don't consider badges intrusive or a violation of anyone's rights, or an erosion of rights. I feel the same way about mandatory uniforms. And this is coming from someone who defends unpopular ideas because to do otherwise would erode our civil rights..."(submitted by John P.,  Hillsborough)


PRO:  To dampen the wearing of gang colors.
PRO:  I can tell you that my son attended a school that required long sleeve shirts with ties in the winter, dress polo style knits (all shirts tucked in) in hot weather, leather shoes, "Dockers" style pants with a belt. I can tell you that almost all behaved differently while "dressed." Every parent noticed the change when the kids dressed and didn't dress.
PRO:  There are studies that show that uniforms help bring down incidences of bad behavior and lowers referrals. You can also find other studies to refute that. It has to be something that "fits" your school. In Hillsborough, the decision is left up to our SACs. 
CON:  One down side of school uniforms is that "it indeed does reduce student individuality" and makes it more difficult to identify perpetrators of improper conduct. If the description is that that the "perp" was a "white boy with brown hair wearing a white shirt and blue pants", the clothing description does not help if every boy is wearing a white shirt and blue pants. 

Another downside is that the uniform advertises to pedophiles where the child is going to school. A uniform with a worn ID provides some easy conversation openers. (submitted by Dave M, Manatee)

 

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DRUG TESTING

PRO:  We are also one of the first schools in Florida to require our athletes to submit to random drug testing this current year. Our SAC supported this unanimously, and even set aside funds to help with the tests, which are very expensive. This issue has caused much debate in our district, and others. I would like to see all students who are involved in extracurricular activities be required to submit to random drug testing, but we must start somewhere. 

I'm sure that some will disagree with our strategies. The nice thing about School Improvement Plans are that you write your objectives and strategies to fit your school, and address the problems that stakeholders feel are important. The student IDs, and drug testing issues are important to us.  (submitted by Nina C., Kissimmee)


MIXED:  "I have mixed feelings about drug testing. I feel it is important to train staff to recognize traits of students involved in drug usage.  Most parents would appreciate someone discreetly asking about the traits to determine whether or not other issues are happening within the home. Working with juvenile justice, I do see that having a strong zero tolerance policy with drug testing can be a deterrent. You'll find less buys on campus and in the parking lot. More kids would abstain in order to be able to participate in sports and clubs.

All these actions serve as a deterrent. However, if someone is determined to use drugs, trespass on campus, etc., they'll find a way. (Submitted by Sharon D., Hillsborough) 


CON:  ..."I don't believe in drug testing at all. My daughter is involved is sports and numerous studies have proven that these are the children least likely to be involved in drugs. At her high school they tested all athletes for years ( about 7) (this was paid for by donations from a local group) in all the years they tested they only found two positives, they decided it was not worth the cost. I'd rather see the school spend the money on academics and other programs. (submitted by Sandee)

 

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