Safe Schools Task Force
School Safety In early January, in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan and Superintendent Baldwin formed a Safe Schools task force to:
 
   1)evaluate our current safe schools plans and procedures,
 
   2) evaluate the best practices of other school district's,
 
   3) review the current resources within the school system, the sheriff's office, and the community, and
 
   4) make recommendations regarding better use of existing resources or development of any new resources or procedures to improve school safety.  
 
Representatives of the task force from both the school district and sheriff's office interviewed community representatives from law enforcement, emergency management, mental health, social services, and other community agencies to identify strengths and needs of the community.  Parent and staff surveys were also conducted to gather stakeholder input and concerns to be considered for future planning. 
 
The task force utilized an approach recommended by a group of national experts which emphasizes a balanced response to the issue of school violence that addresses prevention and intervention.  The Safe Schools Task force recognizes the need to look at building safety and increased security measures as well as educational programming and supports in place to address social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students.  
 
The task force acknowledges that communication is critical, and structures should exist that provide ways for teachers, students, and parents to responsibly report to identified school staff any disturbing or threatening behaviors they observe that could impact the school environment.  In addition, school staff should investigate ways to engage students who feel disconnected from the school or who have unresolved conflicts with peers or adults in the school setting.  
 
Finally, the task force supports need to be in place that use a three-tiered,research-based model, such as Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports. In this model, all students receive instruction and in expected positive behaviors,  some students with behavior/emotional needs receive addition instruction, counseling, or in-school supports, and a few student with intensive mental health and behavior issues are provided a wide range of school and community supports. 
 
At the April 11, 2013 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Education, the Safe Schools Task force presented their findings and recommendations to the Board, utilizing the PowerPoint presentation below, which contains the results of several surveys including the phone survey responded to by over 5,000 parents and staff, the online version of that same survey (over 1000 responses), and additional online surveys conducted by individual schools. 
 
Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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