School Business Affairs March 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | MARCH 2019 35 Best practices to consider in emergency management plans. legal issues Managing School Crises: Before, During, and After By Charles J. Russo, J.D., Ed.D., and David Dolph, Ph.D. F rom school shootings, to bomb threats, to natural disasters, to deaths in the school community, education leaders are challenged to maintain “business as usual” while operating in crisis response-crisis man- agement mode. The Federal Commission on School Safety recent released a 170-page report on best practices and recommendations to prevent, protect and mitigate, and respond and recover. The report states that factors that con- tribute to the effectiveness of security and emergency management efforts at schools include the establishment of a security man- agement team; the development of a school safety community; the conduct of school risk assessments; and the existence of secu- rity and emergency operations plans. This column draws from some of those recommendations and offers strategies for school business officials and other education leaders to consider before, during, and after an emergency situation. Before an Emergency Crisis management plans and policies should be comprehensive and actionable, based on risk assessments, and address a wide array of scenarios. They should include protocols for reporting intruders in the school, for evacuating buildings, and for remaining in secured locations on campus. Anonymous activity reporting programs should be in place to encourage and facili- tate the reporting of suspicious activities and other concerning behaviors. Policies should include establishment of a crisis management team at each building and detail each member’s responsibilities during an emergency. School leaders and local police and gov- ernment agencies should review school crisis management plans and discuss the roles of other agencies during emergencies. Because the media plays an important part in communicating to the public, the district should have a media plan as part of their crisis preparation plan. A district employee should be designated to oversee the plan and its implementation. All school personnel must play a part in ensuring student and staff safety. Education leaders should regularly review school safety policies at faculty/staff meet- ings and post them on school websites so that teachers and parents are familiar with school and district policies and plans. All school personnel must play a part in ensuring student and staff safety and should be trained in emergency procedures. It would also be wise to have faculty and staff walk through emergency procedures with students to familiarize or review their expected responses. During Crises When an emergency arises, building-level officials should notify the superintendent’s office and follow designated procedures, including contacting local first responders and other governmental agencies. The superintendent’s office should alert the designated spokesperson to communi- cate with the media and the community. The superintendent’s focus should be on the safety of staff and students rather than on answering media questions. School officials should provide frequent updates to teachers, staff, students, and SYDA PRODUCTIONS/STOCK.ADOBE.COM