Photo gallery: http://bit.ly/2M7y76A (password is hcde1889)
School safety planning attracted more than 200 educators and law enforcement officials as the Center for Safe and Secure Schools hosted the Student Safety and Discipline Institute on June 6 at Harris County Department of Education, 6300 Irvington, Houston, Texas.
Keynote and breakout sessions tackled topics such as active shooter training, suicide prevention, student mental health, drug prevention and violence, cybersecurity and social media monitoring and school safety. The free event featured Gaye Lang, who specializes in Restorative Practices as an adjunct professor for Texas Southern University; Sasha McLean, executive director of Archway Academy, a recovery school; and Eloise Sepeda, a Restorative Justice trainer.
Superintendent James Colbert Jr. provided the welcome and applauded attendees for taking a community approach to solving school safety issues.
“I appreciate your fearlessness and your ability to step forward rather than stepping back,” Colbert told the crowd.
McLean, whose school resides in inner-city Houston, took action by sharing her basic active shooter presentation which included roleplay on swarming, a crowd approach to deterring an active shooter, with power in numbers.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s one person acting alone,” said McLean. “If I have a weapon, the first thing you want to get your hand on is the shooter’s arms. The goal is to contain the firearm.”
“If you can’t run and have no other choice, I want you to protect yourself. It’s important for you to visualize what that would be like.”
Closing the presentation, a panel discussion provided opportunity for information sharing as Yates High School student Zachary Steward moderated a discussion between superintendents and school law enforcement leaders, including retired police chief Alan Bragg; LaTonya Goffney, Aldine ISD superintendent; H.D. Chambers, Alief ISD superintendent; Victor Mitchell, police chief at Spring ISD; Brian Allen, director of safety and security, Galena Park ISD; and Ecomet Burley, director of the Center for Safe and Secure Schools.
“Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools continues to evolve and seek innovative ways to support school districts’ efforts to maintain safe and secure learning environments,” said Ecomet Burley, director for the Center for Safe and Secure Schools.
“We’re looking at a lot of different topics today like cybersecurity, restorative discipline practices and how to recognize students who are troubled in order to proactively get out in front of these problems.”
Currently the Center for Safe and Secure Schools focuses on four areas of services: school culture and climate, emergency management planning, safe schools plans and facility audits, and member benefits.
The center’s newest service area called Restorative Discipline Practices provides alternative discipline methods versus the traditional, exclusionary or punitive systems. Restorative practices works to promote positive school climates.
For more information about the Center for Safe and Secure Schools and its upcoming events, following the center’s Facebook page: @HCDECSSS.
About the Center for Safe and Secure Schools: The center was established in 1999 at the request of school superintendents to advance safe and secure environments for learning and teaching. We partner with federal, state and local entities to take the lead in the development of increased safety and security strategies, standards and best practices for K-16 school environments for both students and educators. The center continually seeks new and innovative opportunities to build safer and more secure learning environments, http://www.hcde-texas.org
About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE provides special education, therapy services, early education, adult education and after-school programming. Services are funded by government grants, fees and a local property tax rate of $.005195. For every dollar in local property tax collected, HCDE provides $4.40 in services to the 25 Harris County school districts. HCDE also operates four campuses for students with profound special education needs and adjudicated youth who require a low student-teacher ratio and highly structured environment. One-hundred percent of students served on HCDE campuses are at-risk. The organization is governed by an elected board of seven trustees and has 1,060 employees and 33 facilities, including 15 Head Start centers. More info at http://www.hcde-texas.org .