Thursday, October 05, 2006


Following a spate of depraved school violence last week, Maine is examining its own crisis guidelines. Current law requires all 177 school boards to "approve a plan developed by the school unit administration working with local public safety, mental health and law enforcement officials to deal with crises and potential crisis situations involving violent acts by or against students in each school in the school administrative unit." The Maine Department of Education requires that school boards report a readiness plan, but does not examine the individual plans. Last year, 40 percent of districts did not report their readiness plan in case of a crisis.

In a crisis, particularly one involving crazed individuals, a few good decisions by school staff can help a lot and save lives. Lawmakers would be wise to make sure that every school has a series of disaster criteria, including what to do in a hostage situation and a school shooting. Legislation enacted in Minnesota recently reflects the need to be prepared.

MN is considering developing specific K-12 teacher and school administrator competencies related to emergency preparedness and providing emergency preparedness training to K-12 teachers and administrators.

Schools are largely safe areas for children, and notoriously unsafe schools have been made safer by police presence, bag and person screening, and ID cards. Safe schools would be even safer if they provided more training in disaster situations. Part of the blessing in surviving tragedy is the chance to keep trying.


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