Mutualink, a firm that specializes in interoperable communications for schools and public safety, has published a whitepaper addressing school safety and security, and presenting real-world solutions for strategic collaboration that can “achieve safer, more secure schools.”
Authored in collaboration with Dr. William Toms, a faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University and a retired New Jersey State Police Major, an announcement said, “The problem of school safety and security needs to be addressed through strategic collaboration.”
“Through experience-based insights, the paper presents actionable information for school administrators, school security personnel, policy makers, public safety agencies and other stakeholders with a role in protecting students while at school,” according to the announcement.
The whitepaper, Ensuring Preparedness during School Safety Crises, stated, “For schools to provide an optimal setting for learning and growth, they must not only be safe, but provide a feeling of security to all stakeholders – faculty, students, parents, board members and community supporters.”
Topics explored in the paper include:
- Funding schoolsafety and security measures at the state level – why a paradigm shift is needed.
- Leveraging technology that enables schools to collaborate in real time with public safety officials – sharing live video, voice and intercom communications, and school maps – proven to reduce incident resolution time by as much as 40 percent in active shooter exercises.
- A “Strategic Collaboration” model developed specifically for school communities by a faculty member of Fairleigh Dickinson University and Mutualink outlines the stages of strategic community collaboration that lead to safety in our schools, as well as tactical components of collaboration to reach resolution once school security has been breached.
- Preventing, operationalizing, and mitigating school-related emergencies.
“Each time an act of school violence occurs in the United States, numerous well intended individuals from all levels of our community and government appoint commissions and panels to study and investigate how and why the violent acts occurred,” the report said. “Reports from these commissions and panels offer valuable insight into underlying factors that may have led to a violent act: security vulnerabilities at our schools, and a multitude of possible contributory causes such as domestic violence, bullying and deficient mental health services.”
“Recommendations,” the report stated, “often range from increased gun regulation, hardening of schools, the coordination of multiple agencies for better responses to schools, and enhanced mental health solutions. There are always calls for more cooperation and better communication. Many times recommendations may be codified in regulations and directives to prevent a future ‘Columbine’ or ‘Sandy Hook,’ but direct assistance for implementing any regulations or directives too often fall on the backs of the local school districts.”
“The model of local school district autonomy has a proud and storied past in our nation. Communities and regional school districts need to follow various federal and state standards. However, these communities and school districts operate autonomously, and often times distinctly differently than another school located just down the street,” the report’s executive summary stated. “From community to community, funding for schools varies tremendously across geographic regions. This disparity in funding and home rule oversight of schools, in addition to possibly many other factors, has widely impacted the assessment of desired academic outcomes for student success.”
Continuing, the summary noted that, “The disparity in local school funding and outcomes assessment cannot be the same ends that we seek for securing our schools. Statewide funding mechanisms are needed to ensure schools have sufficient budgets and safety and security expertise when planning to protect our children.”