The good news for SFL schools – there's lots of room for improvement

Important headlines for June 5th  The good news for SFL schools – there's lots of room for improvement 

Bottom Line: These are stories you shouldn't miss and my takes on them... 

Excerpt: The Broward League of Cities organized a school and community public safety task force in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland. 

Comprised of broad representation from community stakeholders, the group was tasked with evaluating and preparing consensus recommendations intended to enhance school and community safety. The task force analyzed policy, legislation and operational opportunities and developed advocacy plans at the local, state and federal government levels. What they came up with was a 93-page report with more than 100 recommendations. 

Hot Take: Wow. 93 pages and 100 recommendations! Doesn't exactly give you the warm and fuzzies about the current state of school security does it? My first concern as I waded through elements of the report was concern about all of this being publicly available. The good news is transparency for concerned parents and citizens. The disconcerting news (this is the curse of being analytical in the process) is the highlighting of vulnerabilities in the schools for potential evil-doers. This makes action in advance of next school year that much more important in my mind.  

This report is specific to Broward which is certainly of potential concern there but most of the recommendations aren't mutually exclusive to the Broward School District. Some of them, a la the administration of the Promise Program are... I'll tackle a couple of each starting with two specifics... 

  • First, school resource officers. In Broward 35 (15%) schools didn't have any resource officers and most of them were elementary schools. Plans have been announced to address this and its now Florida law. In the recent national data only 36% of grade schools had resource officers. There's a lot of work to be done in South Florida and throughout the country. 

  • Second, the Promise Program. Despite the initial assurances by the Broward School District that it hadn't led to less safe schools we've come to learn that Cruz fell through the cracks of it before he was even in it. That seems to be par for the course. The report found that accountability in the program was generally lacking. A lack of accountability for students that didn't comply with the program was cited as well recidivism rates that weren't being accurately tracked. That's especially troubling given that Broward touted a 90% success rate for the program that helped obtain a significant federal grant a couple of years ago. Bottom line is that Cruz wasn't the only one falling through the cracks. Just the deadliest 

For a couple of the general takeaways... 

  • Single point of entry highlighted as an important area of need. We know this is an issue in most SFL schools that often come with multiple buildings and sprawling campuses. Time and again security experts cite the need to get to this outcome in at least each building. 

  • The MSD School Safety Act provided many solutions, but some new mandates often lack full funding from the state. 

It'll take a little time to digest but there's not a lot of time to act before next school year. More to come... 

Until tomorrow...     

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