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Gov. Rick Scott asking school leaders to review, enhance emergency plans

Florida Education
Posted at 2:08 PM, Dec 17, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida's governor is asking school leaders to review their emergency procedures and devise methods for enhancing security in schools statewide.

The governor is also asking schools to let families know about their current safety procedures and any additional actions schools are taking in enhancing safety and protection for students.

Governor Scott said, “Following the tragedy in Connecticut, I join parents everywhere who want to make sure our students are safe. To better protect Florida’s children, I’m asking Florida school districts to review their emergency procedures and work alongside the Dept. of Education, FDLE and local law enforcement to review and enhance on-campus emergency plans to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. School should be a sanctuary for learning and creativity where students, teachers and parents feel safe – and a review of these procedures will enhance safety for Florida schools.”  

In 2001, the Florida Legislature passed the Safe Passage Act requiring every district to have a clearly directed safety and security program that includes comprehensive plans with input from parents, community representatives, local emergency agencies, teachers, staff, and students. Each year, districts must assess and update their emergency plans using a comprehensive assessment tool.

In 2003, the Florida Department of Education adopted a statewide policy detailing school preparation and response to emergencies and threats of violence. The department’s Office of Safe Schools works with districts to implement safety objectives; including:

· Limiting school entry points

· Inspecting school grounds daily for suspicious persons

· Establishing communication procedures for alerting parents

· Enhancing police patrol of campus during peak times of traffic and activity.

The guidelines can be viewed here.

School leaders throughout the state have begun enhancing security measures. Examples are as follows:

On Sunday, Hillsborough County School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia deployed phone messages to school staff and parents about safety precautions occurring in schools this week. “We have been in contact with local police – who will work together with our school security staff to arrange for deputies and officers to play a more visible role on and around our campuses – especially our elementary schools,” said Superintendent Elia. “We’re working with law enforcement and doing everything we can to keep our campuses safe and secure.”

Superintendent of Orange County Schools Dr. Barbara Jenkins said, “We take all perceived threats to student safety seriously, and deal with them swiftly by activating safe school plans and calling on our school resource officers assigned by our excellent law enforcement partners. Child safety is in the minds of our leadership team and we appreciate additional law enforcement presence in and around our schools this week.”