On October 5th, WFIS attended the second OSPI meeting of the School Safety Advisory Committee of the year.  Andrew Rauch, Epiphany School Facilities Manager and WFIS Executive Director Suzie Hanson were pleased to engage with Rep. Melanie Stambaugh of Puyallup and Rep. Brad Klippert of Olympia, as well as Jill Patnode of Puget Sound Educational School District, Nancy Bernhard from the Department of Health, and WA State PTA Executive Director Kathryn Hobbs along with many other educators, facilities managers and community leaders from districts around the state.  

OSPI’s Mike Donlin lead the discussion focusing the room on the paramount importance for children to be successful in school, safety must be ensured.  The work ahead is how to establish a way to fund school safety.  This will need to include funds to monitor safety plans, train school safety professionals, integrate mental health, suicide prevention, LEA safety planning and other factors as outlined on the OSPI provided agenda.

Several attendees raised the concern of State Protocol consistency.   Police departments can’t learn everybody’s individual safety procedures – we need to coordinate and provide some format of uniformity.  To achieve this, districts need safety information to be part of professional development for teachers, though everyone acknowledged there are not many days nor the money outlined for additional for training under the current structures.

Questions were raised on how to achieve a Coordinated Approach.  What are the top priorities for school safety?  And how should we make incremental successes toward the common goals?

Also noted by several individuals in the room was the need for fire, police and emergency response representatives to be at the table to address questions and mitigate resistance now as well as down the road as plans unfold.  Preparing for and handling at the time of crisis will be different perspectives:  schools, responders, parents, etc.  The scope of Schools Safety needs to be put into basic education for funding and there needs to be a staff member in each district whose job is safety.

School mapping process has decreased over the years, and a year ago it was defunded.  Current capital budget includes mapping but we don’t have a complete capitol budget.  Schools wonder—what is this all about?  The language around mapping and school safety plans is vague. In 2007 the legislature mandated schools use of the Rapid Responder system for mapping.  That law actually complicated matters because of the wording “to the extent funds are available”.  Currently there is complexity between Pierce County School Threat System and Rapid Responder as they wrangle over data.  Any school that has or would like to gain access to the Rapid Respoder System can contact Dave Corr at the WASPC via dcorr@waspc.org.

A recap of this meeting, which include the 5 immediate funding needs issues and planned next steps can be reviewed in this pdf: OSPI SUMMIT #2 – NOTES.

The next OSPI School Safety Advisory Committee meeting will be in the spring.