Mask requirements, new teaching philosophies, and a plethora of other current events have turned in-person school board meetings into a potentially hostile, sometimes dangerous environment for board members and attendees.
As Districts transition back to in-person instruction, we are seeing an increase in the number of incidents involving parents and community members lashing out or threatening school administrators and board members. Open session school board meetings are an essential forum for the public to voice concerns; however, they should not be conducted in a manner that compromises the safety of the participants at the board meeting. The board must also be able to run meetings efficiently and with minimal disruption. Here are a few things that Districts can do to bolster the general safety and security of board meetings while also reducing the potential for violent and dangerous confrontations.
Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for board meetings in advance
Conduct a security and vulnerability assessment of board meeting sites to ensure things like access control, lighting, mechanical surveillance, and organized security are adequate
Partner with local Law Enforcement to ensure that they have a presence during open session board meetings
Provide segregated, secure parking for board members
Provide board members with law enforcement or security escorts into and out of the board meeting facility
Establish and practice secure emergency exit routes for board members
Ensure that public attendance does not exceed maximum room occupancy limits
Apprise the public audience of the rules of conduct before the meeting starts and enforce all violations to maintain order in those meetings
Consider weapons screening measures for public board meeting attendees
Incorporate hazard/threat annexes that specifically address school board meetings in the District’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)
For SOPs and EOPs to be effective, they have to be concise, and board members must have an opportunity to practice them. School board meetings that result in negative incidents should be immediately hot-washed through an After Action Debrief (AAD) process. AADs will help the district define what went well and what didn’t work, leading to improved safety and security for future meetings.
If you would like help reviewing your school board meeting process, evaluating your school board meeting facility, or developing SOPs and EOPs, you can contact one of our IMReady school security experts at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can visit us at www.imready-keenan.com
AP Keenan’s Loss Control services promote safety awareness, and assist in the identification of conditions which may pose a risk of injury. We do not suggest that following our recommendations will eliminate all risk of injury or will result in improved loss experience.