In 2013, as part of Public Act 13-1, Connecticut enacted legislation that requires the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), in consultation with the State Department of Education, to develop school security and safety standards and further requires boards of education to establish committees to develop and implement school security and safety plans. The state recently released its newest iteration of the security and safety standards as well as revised versions of its templates for district and school security and safety plans. The new school security and safety standards are not yet posted on the DESPP website, but can be accessed here.
Substantively, the new school security and safety standards have not changed, but they do contain several procedural clarifications. First, by statute, boards of education must annually review and update, if necessary, their security and safety plans and submit them to DESPP’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS). The new standards clarify that boards may fulfill this obligation by submitting (1) the revised pages of the plans; (2) a form from DEMHS indicating that no changes have been made, along with a signature page; or (3) revised plans. Importantly, the new standards state that, going forward, these submissions are now due November 1 of each year.
In addition, the standards, in conformity with the legislation, continue to require local law enforcement and public safety officials to assess and provide feedback on fire and crisis response drills. The standards specify that “public safety officials” include the local emergency management director, fire marshal, building inspector and emergency medical services representative. The new standards clarify that each of these named officials should evaluate and provide feedback on a representative sampling of fire and crisis response drills each year.
Furthermore, the new standards emphasize that security and safety plans should provide guidance on the recovery from an emergency incident, in addition to including provisions regarding preparedness and response. For example, the security and safety plan templates include annexes for the accounting of persons, reunification and continuity of operations. Finally, the new standards also highlight the importance of preventative planning concerning mental health, which the standards state may mitigate potential issues.
Although this year’s revisions to the school security and safety standards are relatively minor, school leaders and school security and safety committee members should nevertheless familiarize themselves with these revised standards and ensure that each security and safety plan complies with the standards and related reporting requirements.
Questions or Assistance:
For more information about school security and safety standards and plans, please contact Peter J. Maher at email@example.com or (860) 251-5507.