The following policy was submitted for a first reading at the School Committee Meeting of October 19, 2020 and will be considered for adoption at the November 2, 2020 School Committee Meeting.
The Smithfield School Committee recognizes the importance of planning for emergencies and disasters to provide for a safe school environment for students and staff and requires that the Superintendent develop and maintain plans that meet the requirements of state law for preparedness in case of fire, civil emergencies, and natural disasters.
The Superintendent shall develop, in consultation with school staff and local emergency responders, district and school safety plans that address prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Such plans shall use consistent, plain language and terminology and shall include:
(1) Appropriate prevention, mitigation, preparedness and intervention strategies, based on data to target priority needs and which make use of effective actions based on currently accepted best practices;
(2) Formalized collaborative arrangements with state and local law enforcement and firefighter officials, town resources, and with counselors and other recovery supports;
(3) Training for school personnel, including annual school safety training, a review of the school crisis response plan, and training to de-escalate potentially violent situations;
(4) Policies and procedures relating to school building security, including where appropriate the use of school safety officers and/or security devices or procedures;
(5) Protocols for school personnel and students responding to bomb threats, hostage-takings, intrusions, and kidnappings;
(6) Policies and procedures for responding to violence by students, teachers, other school personnel as well as visitors to the school;
(7) Policies and procedures for contacting appropriate law enforcement officials and EMS/Fire, in the event of a violent incident;
(8) Policies and procedures for notification and activation of the school crisis response team;
(9) Policies and procedures for contacting parents and guardians in the event of a violent incident;
(10) Policies and procedures for the dissemination of informative materials regarding the early detection of potentially violent behaviors, including, but not limited to, the identification of family, community, and environmental factors, to teachers, administrators, school personnel, families and other persons deemed appropriate to receive that information;
(11) Strategies for improving communication by school and district officials and emergency responders, among students and between students and staff and reporting of potentially violent incidents, such as the establishment of youth-run programs, peer mediation, conflict resolution, creating a forum or designating a mentor for students concerned with bullying or violence, and establishing anonymous reporting mechanisms for school violence;
(12) A description of the duties of any school safety personnel, including the school crisis response team, and the training requirements of all personnel acting in a school security capacity and policies and procedures for students, personnel who are in the hallway during a lockdown situation;
(13) Policies and procedures for providing notice of threats of violence or harm to the student or school employee who is the subject of the threat. The policy shall define "threats of violence or harm" to include violent actions and threats of violent actions either individually or by groups, but shall not include conduct or comments that a reasonable person would not seriously consider to be a legitimate threat;
(14) Policies and procedures for disclosing information that is provided to the school administrators about a student's conduct, including, but not limited to, the student's prior disciplinary records, and history of violence, to classroom teachers, school staff, and school security, if they have been determined by the principal to have a legitimate need for the information in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities and for protecting such information from any further disclosure; and
(15) Procedures for determining whether or not any threats or conduct established in the policy may be grounds for discipline of the student. School districts, school committees, school officials, and school employees providing notice in good faith as required and consistent with the committee's policies adopted under this section are immune from any liability arising out of such notification.
School safety plans shall include plans specific to each school building and shall be developed and approved in consultation with local police and fire. School emergency response plans shall include, and address, but not be limited to, the following elements:
(1) Policies and procedures for the safe evacuation of students, teachers, and other school personnel as well as visitors to the school in the event of a serious violent incident or other emergency, which shall include evacuation routes and shelter sites and procedures for addressing medical needs, transportation, and emergency notification to parents and guardians;
(2) Designation of an emergency response team comprised of school personnel, local law enforcement officials, and representatives from local regional and/or state emergency response agencies, other appropriate incident response teams including a school crisis response team, and a post-incident response team that includes appropriate school personnel, medical personnel, mental health counselors, and others who can assist the school community in coping with the aftermath of a violent incident;
(3) Procedures for assuring that crisis response and law enforcement officials have access to floor plans, blueprints, schematics, or other maps of the school interior and school grounds, and road maps of the immediate surrounding area;
(4) Establishment of internal and external communication systems in emergencies;
(5) Definition and formalization of the chain of command in a manner consistent with the national interagency incident management system/incident command system;
(6) Procedures for review and the conduct of drills and other exercises to test components of the emergency response plan, including use of checklists as described in § 16-21-23.1;
(7) Policies and procedures for securing and restricting access to the crime scene in order to preserve evidence in cases of violent crimes on school property; and
(8) Policies and procedures for ensuring timely access to mental health services for those students and school employees affected by a violent incident.
The Superintendent shall annually review the response sequence with local police and fire officials. Plans shall be submitted to local police and fire officials and RIDE at least every 3 years by September 1 or when changes occur. Plans must be updated in the case of new construction or other physical changes to the school campus.
Building Principals will meet all requirements for conducting fire drills and emergency response drills (at least once per year) to give students practice in moving with orderly dispatch to designated areas under emergency conditions, and the staff practice in carrying out their assigned responsibilities for building evacuation.
LEGAL REF: R.I.G.L. § 16-21-24