The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) will release its K-12 security guidelines at ISC West on April 16th at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. The announcement is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. in room 310.
PASS is a volunteer alliance among the Security Industry Association (SIA), the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) and industry professionals. The PASS K-12 team was formed for a singular purpose – to provide school administrators, School Boards, Public Safety and security professionals with guidelines for a tiered approach to securing schools. These guidelines are the first of their kind in the education industry.
Scott Lord of All Systems, and steering committee director of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), likens the effort to enhance school security to the move decades ago to establish fire prevention, alarm and suppression standards for schools.
“It’s been over 50 years since a child has died in a fire in a school. NFPA codes have been so effective that a school fire really isn’t something that students, staff or parents worry about. We need to get school security to the same place.”
School security is at the forefront of conversations around dinner tables, in administrator conferences and at school board meetings. K-12 stakeholders want to know:
- What is being done?
- What can be done?
- What should be done?
- How do we pay for it?
SIA and NSCA heard these questions from the educational community. Researching the problem, it became quickly evident that there were no easy answers.
The organizations recognized that there are no concise points of reference for administrators, law enforcement and security professionals. Many recommendations focused on the response to violence. Other than anti-bullying campaigns, which are important and beneficial, there is little available information regarding prevention strategies.
“We’re about leadership for our profession: what’s emerging, what’s coming, and how it will affect us. We step up as leaders, always educating and assisting members and their clients in quickly and effectively responding to the world they operate in, ” says Chuck Wilson, NSCA and Don Erickson, SIA, PASS Co-Founders. This could well be the most important life safety and security industry project we’ve ever been a part of.”
Schools budgets are so tight that funding is difficult to pull together for a threat that, in reality, has a statistically low probability. It is not that schools don’t take the threat seriously. They do. It is simply that money used to secure a school is money taken from budgets needed to educate students. The pool of funds is small and getting smaller. Given these challenges, many schools choose to simply ignore the problem.
PASS K-12 realizes that not every school system has the financial resources to invest in security enhancements, yet they face daily pressures to ensure that students are protected. A guide, such as PASS K-12, can provide administrators with a way to measure their compliance with specific industry standards.
One of the first things that PASS K-12 realized was that the problem of school security is larger than the threat of an active shooter. Schools and children face threats each day that seldom make the headlines.
- Custody disputes
- Drug dealing
- Gang activity
- Close proximity to area street crime
Given these multiple threats, PASS K-12 decided to establish guidelines for school security and safety. These guidelines focus on core security principles that include defining the threat, mitigating the threat, measuring the results and adjusting as necessary. The group’s goals were to:
- Define threats common to schools at each educational level (elementary, middle and secondary)
- Make recommendations on parental and community involvement
- Detail a layered approach to security that combats common threats, while also mitigating the risks related to active shooters.
- Provide information for school administrators, resource officers and school IT staff on technology focused layers (video surveillance, duress alarms, electronic access control) – what’s new, what’s in the future, and how to prepare.
- Provide scalable/tiered measures (adjustments to operations/procedures, mechanical locks, door chimes, signage, staff training, community involvement, student involvement, etc.) that administrators can implement in a manner proportional to their available resources and the local risk level.
“PASS is all about best practices,” says Brett St. Pierre, PASS chairman. “Providing analysis and factual data to help our members make smart and informed decisions about the technology best-suited for each situation is a large part of what we do.”