Lack of safety training standards puts students in danger | #schoolsaftey


With an armed sheriff’s deputy watching, a woman in a bright reflective vest unspooled the yellow caution tape across one side of the large room. There were stand-ins for greeters and parents, evacuated students and a unified incident commander.More than 100 district and school administrators and staff, law enforcement and community leaders gathered at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in southern Virginia for a two-day training session earlier this year to take part in a school reunification drill, practicing how to bring parents and their children back together after a shooting, chemical spill, natural disaster or other emergency on campus. The training was provided by the I Love U Guys Foundation.”I felt that it was critical for me to be here today,” Teresa Petty, assistant superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools, said. Sheriff Mike Taylor, who said he still remembers being unable to reach his then-college-aged son for hours after the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007, sought out the reunification exercise for his county after acknowledging the expertise “was just lacking for us.”Lack of school training requirementsWith school shootings in the United States continuing to rise in frequency, law enforcement agencies and school districts in many other communities nationwide lack any basic reunification training to help mitigate what can be chaotic – and infuriating – experiences for traumatized families at the scene of an emergency, according to an investigation by the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit. The bedrock responsibility of securing individual schools is largely unregulated at the federal level, Hearst Television has found, with no uniform requirements for school safety training or qualifications for companies hired by districts to train their employees. Nearly half of the states – 24 – do not require any school safety training for teachers and staff, according to data collected in 2022 by the Education Commission of the States.’More chaos’ without trainingJaclyn Schildkraut, the executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in New York, co-authored the 2022 book “Lockdown Drills” and leads more than 100 safety drills for districts across the country each year.Schildkraut, who dedicated her book to “Generation Columbine” – a growing number of kids “who have never known a world without lockdown or active shooter drills” – says every state should require trainings and drills – especially those that currently do not.”If you’re not providing training, if you’re not providing opportunities to practice, then you’re going to have more chaos when that emergency occurs,” putting lives in jeopardy, Schildkraut said in an interview.WATCH EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Jaclyn Schildkraut, Co-Author of new book “Lockdown Drills,” discusses impact of gun violence on “Generation Columbine”Some school safety bills stall In Texas, state policy does require school staff training on suicide prevention and trauma-informed care, but doesn’t go as far as some other states, according to the Education Commission of the States. Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents the city of Uvalde, where a former student shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24, 2022, introduced a bill in the current Texas legislative session to require coordinated training on how to react to school shootings. The bill would also create a mechanism to post a patrol officer at every campus.In an interview at the now-shuttered site of the Uvalde massacre, Robb Elementary, Sen. Gutierrez admitted his bill is unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled legislature. His voice broke and he became emotional, describing his frustration with what he described as the inaction of policymakers.”This is the most important issue in this country,” Gutierrez said. “There is no other – not inflation, not high gas, not even health care or anything. If you don’t have your kid, there is no – there is nothing.”As the regular 2023 Texas legislative session comes to a close, other bills to provide hundreds of millions of dollars for physical hardening measures at schools have advanced.WATCH EXTENDED INTERVIEW: State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-Uvalde, TX) on America’s Mass Shooting Epidemic: ‘We Can Actually Stop It’In an exclusive questionnaire about school safety sent by Hearst Television to every public school district in all 50 states, one out of every three districts that responded said they did not have any professional security on site, including from a district police department, sworn law enforcement agency or a school resource officer, as first reported in November.Districts also named more than 130 organizations and companies they have contacted, or contracted with, for help with school security or training, from billion-dollar conglomerates to one-person consultancies. Many districts acknowledged the need to improve security but said they could not afford to do so without further local, state, or federal help.READ THE FULL RESULTS FROM THE EXCLUSIVE QUESTIONNAIRE SENT TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN ALL 50 STATESI Love U Guys Foundation One of the entities cited often by districts in their questionnaire responses was the “I Love U Guys” Foundation. The Colorado-based nonprofit provides free, downloadable training guides and curriculum, along with multi-day workshops, such as the one in Pittsylvania County, in southern Virginia, earlier this year. John-Michael Keyes, one of three co-founding members of the foundation, invited Hearst Television to observe the sessions. Keyes’ daughter, Emily, 16, died in a school shooting at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Her final text message to her parents was, “I love u guys.” Those four words, Keyes said, gave him a purpose. “She’s part of the fabric of our story: ‘I love u guys,'” Keyes said in an interview. “People learn really efficiently if there’s an emotional hook, OK? And we set an emotional hook early on to enhance the training experience.”WATCH EXTENDED INTERVIEW: John-Michael Keyes, co-founder of I Love U Guys Foundation, explains key tactic in its school safety trainings That “hook” involves trainers with past experiences with school shootings. Adjunct instructor Stacy Avila is a retired Colorado police officer and SWAT negotiator. She was assigned to negotiate with the gunman who took Emily Keyes hostage and ultimately killed her.”I feel like I have a debt to the Keyes family that I can never repay. And, so, if I can do this to help their foundation, their cause, I will do anything I can because I wasn’t able to save their girl,” Avila said in an interview.Mark Albert is the chief national investigative correspondent for the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit, based in Washington, D.C. Tamika Cody, Reid Bolton, David Postovit, Phil Dupont, Chris Petersen, MyAhna Alston, and Pingping Yin contributed to this report.If you know of school security concerns you want us to investigate or unique district safety initiatives you’d like to share for our ongoing ‘Securing Our Schools’ investigation, please send confidential information and documents to the National Investigative Unit at [email protected] THE HEARST TELEVISION NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE UNIT’S ONGOING SECURING OUR SCHOOLS SERIES: Part 1: Falling Short – November 2022 Part 2: Cost of Safety – March 2023 Part 3: Training for Trauma – May 2023 On the Ground: Mark Albert in Uvalde, Texas – May 2023 Get the Facts: Guns Safety Laws Since Uvalde – May 2023

With an armed sheriff’s deputy watching, a woman in a bright reflective vest unspooled the yellow caution tape across one side of the large room. There were stand-ins for greeters and parents, evacuated students and a unified incident commander.

More than 100 district and school administrators and staff, law enforcement and community leaders gathered at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in southern Virginia for a two-day training session earlier this year to take part in a school reunification drill, practicing how to bring parents and their children back together after a shooting, chemical spill, natural disaster or other emergency on campus. The training was provided by the I Love U Guys Foundation.

Hearst Television

School and district leaders in Pittsylvania County, Va., as well as local law enforcement, take part in a reunification drill led by the I Love U Guys Foundation in January 2023

“I felt that it was critical for me to be here today,” Teresa Petty, assistant superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools, said.

Sheriff Mike Taylor, who said he still remembers being unable to reach his then-college-aged son for hours after the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007, sought out the reunification exercise for his county after acknowledging the expertise “was just lacking for us.”

Lack of school training requirements

With school shootings in the United States continuing to rise in frequency, law enforcement agencies and school districts in many other communities nationwide lack any basic reunification training to help mitigate what can be chaotic – and infuriating – experiences for traumatized families at the scene of an emergency, according to an investigation by the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit.

The bedrock responsibility of securing individual schools is largely unregulated at the federal level, Hearst Television has found, with no uniform requirements for school safety training or qualifications for companies hired by districts to train their employees.

Nearly half of the states – 24 – do not require any school safety training for teachers and staff, according to data collected in 2022 by the Education Commission of the States.

Hearst Television

Nearly half of the states, 24, do not require any school safety training for teachers and staff, according to the Education Commission of the States. Those states are: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

‘More chaos’ without training

Jaclyn Schildkraut, the executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in New York, co-authored the 2022 book “Lockdown Drills” and leads more than 100 safety drills for districts across the country each year.

Schildkraut, who dedicated her book to “Generation Columbine” – a growing number of kids “who have never known a world without lockdown or active shooter drills” – says every state should require trainings and drills – especially those that currently do not.

Hearst Television

Jaclyn Schildkraut, executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, speaks with Chief National Investigative Correspondent Mark Albert at Van Duyn Elementary School in Syracuse, N.Y.

“If you’re not providing training, if you’re not providing opportunities to practice, then you’re going to have more chaos when that emergency occurs,” putting lives in jeopardy, Schildkraut said in an interview.

WATCH EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Jaclyn Schildkraut, Co-Author of new book “Lockdown Drills,” discusses impact of gun violence on “Generation Columbine”

Some school safety bills stall

In Texas, state policy does require school staff training on suicide prevention and trauma-informed care, but doesn’t go as far as some other states, according to the Education Commission of the States. Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents the city of Uvalde, where a former student shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24, 2022, introduced a bill in the current Texas legislative session to require coordinated training on how to react to school shootings. The bill would also create a mechanism to post a patrol officer at every campus.

Hearst Television

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, is interviewed by Chief National Investigative Correspondent Mark Albert at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, scene of the worst school shooting of 2022, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers

In an interview at the now-shuttered site of the Uvalde massacre, Robb Elementary, Sen. Gutierrez admitted his bill is unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled legislature. His voice broke and he became emotional, describing his frustration with what he described as the inaction of policymakers.

“This is the most important issue in this country,” Gutierrez said. “There is no other – not inflation, not high gas, not even health care or anything. If you don’t have your kid, there is no – there is nothing.”

As the regular 2023 Texas legislative session comes to a close, other bills to provide hundreds of millions of dollars for physical hardening measures at schools have advanced.

WATCH EXTENDED INTERVIEW: State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-Uvalde, TX) on America’s Mass Shooting Epidemic: ‘We Can Actually Stop It’

In an exclusive questionnaire about school safety sent by Hearst Television to every public school district in all 50 states, one out of every three districts that responded said they did not have any professional security on site, including from a district police department, sworn law enforcement agency or a school resource officer, as first reported in November.

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Districts also named more than 130 organizations and companies they have contacted, or contracted with, for help with school security or training, from billion-dollar conglomerates to one-person consultancies. Many districts acknowledged the need to improve security but said they could not afford to do so without further local, state, or federal help.

Hearst Television

Districts that responded to a ‘Securing Our Schools’ questionnaire by the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit identified more than 130 companies they’ve contacted, or contracted with, for help with school security or training, from large firms to single-person consultancies

READ THE FULL RESULTS FROM THE EXCLUSIVE QUESTIONNAIRE SENT TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN ALL 50 STATES

I Love U Guys Foundation

One of the entities cited often by districts in their questionnaire responses was the “I Love U Guys” Foundation. The Colorado-based nonprofit provides free, downloadable training guides and curriculum, along with multi-day workshops, such as the one in Pittsylvania County, in southern Virginia, earlier this year.

Hearst Television

Emily Keyes, 16, died in a shooting at Platte Canyon High School in 2006. Her final text to her mother, ‘I love u guys.,’ became the name of the foundation her parents started after her death to provide free safety training and resources to schools.

John-Michael Keyes, one of three co-founding members of the foundation, invited Hearst Television to observe the sessions. Keyes’ daughter, Emily, 16, died in a school shooting at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Her final text message to her parents was, “I love u guys.” Those four words, Keyes said, gave him a purpose.

Hearst Television

John-Michael Keyes, a co-founding member of the I Love U Guys Foundation, is interviewed by Chief National Investigative Correspondent Mark Albert. His 16-year-old daughter, Emily, died in a school shooting at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo., in 2006

“She’s part of the fabric of our story: ‘I love u guys,'” Keyes said in an interview. “People learn really efficiently if there’s an emotional hook, OK? And we set an emotional hook early on to enhance the training experience.”



WATCH EXTENDED INTERVIEW: John-Michael Keyes, co-founder of I Love U Guys Foundation, explains key tactic in its school safety trainings

That “hook” involves trainers with past experiences with school shootings. Adjunct instructor Stacy Avila is a retired Colorado police officer and SWAT negotiator. She was assigned to negotiate with the gunman who took Emily Keyes hostage and ultimately killed her.

Hearst Television

Stacy Avila, an adjunct instructor for the I Love U Guys Foundation, is interviewed by Chief National Investigative Correspondent Mark Albert during a two-day training session in Pittsylvania County, Va.

“I feel like I have a debt to the Keyes family that I can never repay. And, so, if I can do this to help their foundation, their cause, I will do anything I can because I wasn’t able to save their girl,” Avila said in an interview.

Mark Albert is the chief national investigative correspondent for the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit, based in Washington, D.C. Tamika Cody, Reid Bolton, David Postovit, Phil Dupont, Chris Petersen, MyAhna Alston, and Pingping Yin contributed to this report.

If you know of school security concerns you want us to investigate or unique district safety initiatives you’d like to share for our ongoing ‘Securing Our Schools’ investigation, please send confidential information and documents to the National Investigative Unit at [email protected].

WATCH THE HEARST TELEVISION NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE UNIT’S ONGOING SECURING OUR SCHOOLS SERIES:



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