Angela Asch headshot
research spotlight

By Angela Asch

Editor’s note: This issue debuts CSBA’s new regular column, Research Spotlight. In line with the association’s strategic priorities,the Research and Education Policy Development team will share new research findings with CSBA members in each issue.

School safety

New CSBA resources will support school boards, students, staff and communities

G

overnance teams play a critical role in fostering safe environments for students and staff. An integral part of that role is being able to contribute to informed decisions about school safety issues.

The board’s role in adopting and monitoring policies provides an opportunity to establish guidelines that impact the safety of students and staff. From reviewing data on school climate to analyzing the effectiveness of safety programs, policies and curricula to allocating funds to train staff and practice safety measures, school safety work is complex and covers the gamut. School safety is a school, local educational agency and communitywide collaborative effort.

To that end, CSBA’s Research and Education Policy Development Department has been developing and revising school safety resources for governance teams in support of your role and work in providing timely and educated decisions on school safety practices, procedures and policies.

What’s new?
Several new resources are available to support governance teams in understanding the wide-ranging topics included under the umbrella of school safety: a fact sheet on firearm safety and storage, a bullying and cyberbullying brief, a-soon-to-be released Safe Schools Toolkit, recorded webinars and supporting topical webpages with additional community, nonprofit, state and federal resources.

With the 2022 passage of Senate Bill 906, the School Safety: Homicide Threats Act, California LEAs are required to notify families annually about safe gun storage, effective this school year. The “Firearm Safety and Storage Fact Sheet” offers a quick reference to the rules and regulations of firearm storage in California, statistics about firearms, and strategies to keep students, staff and communities safe.

Visit CSBA’s School Safety webpage for resources including tipsheets, toolkits, reports and guides as well as up-to-date information on school safety.

Since the 2018 passage of Assembly Bill 2291, the Safe Place to Learn Act, all LEAs are required to adopt procedures for preventing acts of bullying and cyberbullying. The October 2023 governance brief, “School Safety: Bullying and cyberbullying,” includes definitions, statistics and information on the impacts of bullying and cyberbullying; examples of LEAs’ bullying prevention communications; sample questions for board members; and links to various resources to assist LEAs in the work of building safe and inclusive schools so all students can learn and thrive.

Several recorded webinars are housed in a School Safety Playlist on CSBA’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/csbavideo). The webinars include a panel discussion with Mark Ghilarducci, former director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, reviewing pertinent emergency preparedness information; a presentation on trauma-informed education principles and strategies to assist educators, families and students in navigating a range of mental health challenges; a panel of statewide experts discussing comprehensive school safety plans and the effects of threats on students well-being and academic achievement; and a panel discussion with experts on school communications before, during and after a safety incident.

What’s coming next?

Coming in summer 2024 is CSBA’s revised Safe Schools Guide, which has been updated as an electronic and downloadable toolkit for governance teams to utilize as they discuss, deliberate and decide on school safety practices, procedures and policies. The new Safe Schools Toolkit breaks down each subtopic of school safety, includes the latest research, and offers sample policies related to the topic and questions governance teams may want to consider in their collaborative deliberations. The toolkit addresses bullying, harassment and discrimination; comprehensive school safety plans; infrastructure; behavioral threat assessment; impacts from safety threats; crisis communications; alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug prevention and much more.

CSBA secured content experts in their respective fields to assist in the development of the Safe Schools Toolkit to ensure governance teams are learning from practitioners and experts. CSBA is grateful for their expertise and contribution to this new resource and would like to thank them for their time and invaluable input. Guest authors for the Safe Schools Toolkit are:

  • John Czajkowski, MA, director of Safety and Security, Sweetwater Union High School District and Education Sector co-chief, InfraGard San Diego, an FBI-affiliated nonprofit organization.
  • Erika Felix, Ph.D., associate professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a licensed psychologist. Her research focuses on understanding the factors that promote positive youth development or recovery despite contexts of risk, trauma or stress.
  • Gus Frias, Ph.D., former manager of school safety programs for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Frias currently serves as Education Sector chief for InfraGard Los Angeles.
  • Trinette Marquis, MA, APR, executive director, California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA), author and educator.
  • Derby Pattengill, former vice president for Health & Community Concerns, California Parent Teacher Association (CAPTA).

CSBA hopes that these resources will become LEA leaders’ go-to tools when discussing and making school safety decisions.

View school safety resources for governance teams at www.csba.org/schoolsafety.

Angela Asch is a principal research manager in the CSBA Research and Education Policy Development Department. Questions? Contact research@csba.org.