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Understanding School Safety Technology Options for RFPs

Many school districts use metal detectors or video monitoring to see what’s going on in their schools. However, video cameras aren’t always manned, even though they’re supposed to be used to gather information when an incident does (or doesn’t) occur.

Prevention is key to reducing the statistics of school violence. In addition, many student behaviors can lead to non-violent but equally damaging incidents involving bullying, threats, thefts, and fighting.

You may think that hardening your schools is the answer, but understanding school safety at the student behavior level and addressing it can be a positive. You may be considering a solution to using a school safety technology that doesn’t contribute to hardening the school environment.

When you’re creating your school safety RFP, you can arm yourself and your peers with information about non-invasive ways to protect your schools.

Understanding School Safety: School Violence Defined and the Statistics

School violence is everyone’s problem to solve, and it can occur in both passive and physical forms.

Passive forms of school violence include verbal and cyber-bullying, name-calling, making threats, exclusion from group(s), spitting, teasing, hate-related behaviors, and intimidation. Physical forms of school violence take the form of fighting, like punching, kicking, slapping, and biting. It also involves assault with a weapon or gang involvement.

In terms of violence, the statistics are intriguing. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCEC), in the 2015-2016 school year, 31% of public schools reported at least one incident that disrupted school activities. These amounted to 50,900 disruptive incidents nationwide. Of this total, some 40,300 were unplanned fire alarms. Another 10,600 were associated with other threats. Of the unplanned fire alarms, schools reported that these disrupted school activities on at least one occasion. Of the reporting schools, 8% had threats due to other actions not involving fire alarms.

The face of violence

Across the US, the problems continue.

In 2010, there were approximately 828,000 nonfatal victimizations among students ages 12 to 18. In 2009, about 20% of students of the same age group reported that gangs were present in their schools. Teachers don’t go unaffected: 7% reported being threatened with injury or physically attacked. It’s also been reported that 80% of teachers have had some sort of violence occurring to them from the students they teach. These include harassment and actual physical attacks.

The Naval Postgraduate School‘s Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) released a K-12 database that provided breakdowns of school shootings. The database showed that:

  • 2018 had the greatest number of incidents, with 82 recorded incidents. The next highest year was 2006 with 59 incidents.
  • 2018 was the highest year for the number of victims killed, including the shooter, with 51 killed.
  • California, Texas, and Florida are the top three states in the US with the most incidents.
  • 669 incidents occurred outside on school property, and 588 occurred inside the school building.
  • Most school shootings occurred in the morning and on Fridays.

How many of these incidents could have been prevented if various interventions were in place?

Talking with Your Peers

With statistics like these, it’s imperative to act when it comes to understanding the best options for your schools. It’s critical to have full buy-ins from your faculty and principals for the options you’re considering for your RFP, as well as receive the best service for a budget-friendly solution. Your RPF isn’t something to be taken lightly. Ask yourselves if heavy-handed school hardening practices are best implemented or if there are other ways to keep your schools safe.

There are less intrusive technologies available and worth examining more closely. What can the various vendors offer to your schools? The technology platform you choose should be unobtrusive and cost-effective. You need to select the bid that offers the best overall benefit to your school system.

Technology Works to Reduce Incidents

For understanding school safety and creating your RFP, you need to examine what areas are important to your schools and adjust accordingly. The automated platform that’s available from ScholarChip includes Alternative Behavior Education (ABE), smart ID cards, visitor management, secure door access, and mobile monitoring.

Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE)

The ScholarChip-ABE allows your school to perform early identification of at-risk students with early interventions at all grade levels before any behaviors can escalate. It uses evidenced-based, age-appropriate intervention videos to help students learn appropriate behavior and provides a rewards system for every successful behavior achieved. Referrals, notes, and behaviors are connected with each student into a web-based, paperless, automated system.

ScholarChip-ABE works with the RTI Tier 3 model. It offers printable Behavior Assessment Tests, quizzes, and open-ended questions to provide topics for outlining individualized mentoring sessions. The Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) capture tool provides in-depth analysis. BIPs can also be created through the FBA tool.

ABE supplies a tight and seamless integration with PowerSchool® and adds additional tools with Infinite Campus, Skyward®, eSchoolPlus™, and other Student Information Systems (SIS).

Smart ID cards

Schools can automate various aspects of their day-to-day operations with ScholarChip’s ID smart cards. Student and staff whereabouts are known throughout the day, whether it’s in the classroom, buildings, buses, or at non-scheduled attendance like trips to the guidance counselor, nurse’s office, main office, and food purchase areas. Smart ID cards are valuable to manage attendance and create responsibility for students. ID cards can also be issued to law enforcement and EMS.

In terms of how to distribute the smart ID cards, schools can easily queue high volumes of cards by student graduation year, homeroom, alphabetically by names, or other groupings. Printing and encoding the ID cards is done quickly and securely.

Visitor management system

Schools need to monitor who is allowed through their doors throughout the day. This is where the visitor management system from ScholarChip is invaluable. There are streams of people—parents, volunteers, vendors, and delivery people—coming in and going out of a school every day. It’s important to have the ability to vet these people and identify and process them through a single, automated system. With this system, it’s critical to have historical and real-time data available. This provides clarity on the amount of traffic that a school receives daily, the reason for visits, and peak visit times. The visitor management system also checks sex offender lists and provides a way to determine who certain authorized parents are. As a result, schools can make facility or operational adjustments and can improve how schools react to an emergency.

Secure door access

Emergencies require fast action. Controlling door access is just one component of a safe school environment.

In understanding school security and its crucial needs, schools need to control which doors are accessible and by whom, across various days and times. ScholarChip’s secure door access gives schools the ability to perform one-click lockdowns in the event of an emergency. Smart-card users are quickly added, and in the event of a lost card, they are voided when required—all with a single click.

Mobile monitoring

ScholarChip Mobile Apps provide attendance and hallways monitoring for most major mobile devices, like iPad® and Android® tablets. Schools can securely identify students, take attendance, collect discipline data, and issue summonses, all at the touch of a button. ScholarChip supports NFC (Near Field Communication) mobile devices. Mobile monitoring is easy for schools to take attendance or manage students in any environment, both inside and outside schools.

The Safety and Security Platform That Protects Your Schools

Creating an RFP means understanding school safety and what methods are appropriate for your school. You have important decisions to make that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Today’s school safety technology doesn’t require harsh hardening methods, but a combination of behavior interventions and other less invasive ways, as offered with ScholarChip’s safety and security platform.

To learn more about how ScholarChip can help you understand more about your safety options when creating your RFP, contact us and talk with one of our specialists today.