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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

New ‘One-Stop Shop’ Site Helps K-12 Schools Make Campuses Safer

A new collaborative federal government website launched Monday as a home base of information to help school administrators as well as students, parents and teachers make K-12 campuses more secure.

SchoolSafety.gov was launched by the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, and includes resources on topics ranging from threat assessment and physical security to cyberbullying and training exercises.

“All children deserve to go to schools free from harm, and all parents deserve to have confidence that their children will return home from school unharmed each and every day,” Assistant Director Brian Harrell at the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) told HSToday. “The safety and security of our nation’s schools is a top priority for this administration and the Department of Homeland Security, and we are committed to supporting our communities prepare for, respond to, and prevent tragedies from occurring.”

“DHS remains focused on supporting those who work to make schools safer and more secure, including the law enforcement community, school administrators, faculty and staff, school safety staff, and students and parents.”

The new school safety site includes an assessment tool that helps create a personalized action plan, and offers resources for those who may not know where to start crafting a security blueprint.

Harrell characterized the DHS support to stakeholders as “education and community awareness; capacity building, training, and exercises; and early warning programs to help identify, report, and act upon concerning behavior.”

“Within CISA, I have made school safety and security one of our key strategic priorities,” he said. “We recently established a School Safety Task Force whose focus is to coordinate and strengthen our school safety efforts, including the stewardship of the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse and SchoolSafety.gov. CISA is committed to utilizing our expertise to facilitate solutions for our nation’s school administrators and educators.”

The agency does that by “leveraging the capabilities of industry, school administrators, state and local officials, field personnel, and our interagency partners to ensure that the K-12 community has the tools and resources they need to make the best-informed security decisions.” CISA’s Protective Security Advisors, for example, have participated in more than 1,300 school security engagements with K-12 administrators, conducting assessments, sharing best practices, and facilitating exercises.

“SchoolSafety.gov is the Clearinghouse’s public-facing channel, which we designed by leveraging the knowledge, resources and lessons learned through both the discovery process and Commission efforts,” Harrell said. “The website serves as a one-stop shop for the American public, primarily Kindergarten through Grade 12 (K-12) school administrators, emergency managers, and security personnel to access free information, guidance, best practices, and tools that make school safety initiatives more actionable.”

“SchoolSafety.Gov is designed specifically to help K-12 school safety community members take action to make their schools safer by providing best practices and implementable strategies. Any member of the school community can leverage SchoolSafety.gov to develop a tailored action plan with prioritization, strategies, resources, and grant opportunities.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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