Spokane Public Schools Safety Audit

Methodology: After the tragedy this past December at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Spokane Public Schools--like most school districts in the United States-- commissioned a safety audit of every school within the district. The scope of this audit was prepared during the students’ winter break period and commenced upon students returning to school. With purpose and intent, this audit started in mid-January, allowing school principals, school safety committees, and building staff the opportunity to implement buildinglevel security protocol modifications prior to a formal audit. Spokane Public Schools safety audit was led by Security Services, a team of 14 commissioned police officers and 4 security response specialists. As background, the Security team has one director, one supervisor, six officers hosted in the middle schools supporting these sites as well as the corresponding feeder elementary schools, and six high school officers. Security response specialists cover the night and weekend hours and respond to all security alarms and responses during these non-instructional periods. This team has over 390 years of combined law enforcement/professional security experience to guide this safety audit. Several core areas have been analyzed in this audit. They include: Employee and volunteer identification badges Visitors in our schools Facility entry points Evening and event access Training of staff and students Rapid Responder program Interior school doors Future/long term integrated security system upgrades Portables Capital project review(s) Staffing levels of the security team Arming school resource officers Community suggestions/feedback/recommendations


Employee and volunteer badges: Most employee badges are also proximity badges….meaning they are also keys to card readers on exterior doors and a few interior doors. Employee badges identify staff members to students, visitors, non-building district employees and first responders. We strongly recommend all staff always wear an identification badge while working on any district property. Since the majority of these badges also serve as exterior keys, employees will have better door access to schools by always wearing a badge. Currently, elementary schools have the highest percentage of staff members wearing identification badges. High schools have the lowest participation.

Visitor protocols: All visitors (defined as those who do not work in a school) should check in with the office for every visit. This provides the school with a sense of awareness as to whom may be on campus should an emergency occur. It also prevents strangers from wandering a building. This desired culture will have any parent, volunteer, visiting district employee, contractor, or vendor check in at the office before having access to the remainder of the building during school hours and school activities.

Facility Entry Points: Beginning in 2003, Spokane Public Schools began installing integrated security systems in all districtowned facilities. This program blends intrusion monitoring, access control, and security cameras into a single cohesive system. A system was installed in every school during the first 6-year bond issue and is currently receiving enhancements funded by the 2009 bond issue. All primary entrance doors and some secondary doors have card readers and electronic locks. This enables software to schedule the times these doors are unlocked/locked. In addition, every school has the ability to lock these doors from the office area in an emergency. Most doors are left locked throughout the school day, as staff can swipe their badge to gain entrance. As this study will show, schools with portables often have a secondary door left unlocked during the day to allow student movement from the portables to the main building. Evening and event access: As described above, most entrance doors have card readers and electronic locks. Therefore, during nonschool hour events, a single door can be programmed to unlock to allow access. An example of this is a set of doors at the Lewis and Clark field house, which allows the public access for evening sporting events. Doors are scheduled by each school, and the schedule can be changed daily, if needed, to restrict access to the facility. Express childcare programs operate out of several elementary schools. Generally speaking, one access point to the school is offered to parents and students enrolled in the express program. Some sites have


installed a doorbell system that allows the doors to remain locked during the early morning and evening hours. Training of staff and students: Current State law (RCW 28A.320.125) requires nine safety drills per year (six fire drills and three crisis drills.) All building principals are FEMA certified in incident command and receive annual updates and training related to emergency drills School staffs receive crisis drill training each fall as the school year commences. Students participate in both fire and crisis drills. Crisis drills include the topics of lockdowns, shelter in place, bomb threats, and off-site evacuations. Each school maintains an emergency box, with accurate crisis plans, staff and student rosters, and emergency contact information. This portable box can be moved to a location within the school, or travel with school personnel to an off-site relocation center.

Rapid Responder Program: All schools in Spokane Public Schools are mapped in this web based crisis management system designed to collect, organize, and securely disseminate critical information needed during an emergency. This “all-hazards” solution provides first responders and key facility stakeholders instant access to vital information allowing for a faster and safer incident response. Each SRO (school resource officer) has administrative rights to the Rapid Responder information, allowing each school to have current up-todate information available to first responders. Both Spokane Police Department and Spokane Fire Department are trained and frequently utilize Rapid Responder when responding to incidents at and around our schools. The District Transportation provider Durham has limited access to assist in staging busses for early dismissals or evacuations. Schools use Rapid Responder during a crisis drill as pre-plans are included to assist decision making under stress and duress. Completed crisis drills are reported into this program and are available for review by OSPI.

Interior School Doors: Most classroom doors have a traditional style lock. Some schools use a rubber Door Blok that wraps around the striker latch of the door and allows the door to close, but not latch. In the event of an emergency, these blocks can be removed and the door pulled closed.


However, the door often remains ajar, and some complain about hall noise, heating and cooling noise due to pressurized rooms and some do not like the fact the rubber devices can be removed completely. Recently, a new style of lock was developed for education. These locks can be locked from inside the classroom. Beginning in the 2006 bond, all new or remodeled Spokane Public Schools have these updated locks on the classroom doors. A future bond project idea for our district is to install upgraded locks to all classrooms. Estimated cost for this project is $800,000. Future/long term security system upgrades: As part of this study, future project ideas were noted. In the 2003 bond issue, approximately $4.8 million was invested in the integrated security system. In the 2009 bond issue, approximately $4.5 million has been allocated for enhancements to existing locations and to install new systems in newlyconstructed schools and other district-wide facilities. A common school request from this audit is installing a security monitor in each main office that would show multiple entry cameras on a single screen. Madison Elementary and Lewis and Clark High School both have piloted this concept with much success. Other requests include additional cameras and card swipe readers for exterior doors. As an aside, it is important to acknowledge the on-going maintenance of the integrated security system. Maintenance and repairs are needed to sustain this system. As the district continues to expand the size and capabilities of this system, the maintenance needs also increase. Recommendation is to budget for an additional maintenance department electrician to provide full-time support.

Portables: Portable classrooms are commonplace throughout the nation. As student attendance rise and fall over time, these classrooms facilitate students remaining on campus rather than bussing to a different building. The nature of portables brings some additional challenges. To begin with, students and staff often transition between the main building and the portables multiple times per day. This often requires a secondary door in the main school building to remain unlocked during the school day. Recommend a site review for any school using portables with our Capital Project Office to discuss additional fencing around portables and the access door to the school—accommodating any fire codes that may be applicable. This study identified twenty-one schools requiring this follow-up.

Capital Project Review: Spokane Public Schools is fortunate to have a team of Architects and Engineers. This team is invaluable in creating the specifications preferred and desired in designing new schools and modernizing existing schools. The inventory of Spokane Public Schools dates back to over 100 years and the needs of these buildings have changed many times during this period. Some schools in this audit have been flagged for additional review by the Capital Projects Office, based on perceptions and current floor plan layout of


buildings. As mentioned in the previous section, any school with portable classrooms will be earmarked for a Capital Project team review. School Resource Officers (SRO): The district currently has 12 SROs. Six of them are assigned to high schools as 10 month employees and 6 are assigned at Central SROs. Five of six Central Officers are 12-month employees assigned to geographic areas of the school district that include a middle school and feeder elementary schools. The 6th officer is a 10-month employee that works as an itinerant for Central Officers that are sick, on vacation or in training. This staffing model is inadequate. The SRO design was and is intended to have an officer assigned to each middle school where he or she is an integral part of the middle school community while also serving feeder elementary schools. Data shows that middle school is a critical part in a student’s life related to criminal behavior and school attendance. Consistent, positive interaction with law enforcement has a long lasting positive impact on these students. The Security Department currently has 5 officers assigned to 6 middle schools leaving one of the schools out of the model. The school still receives service from other officers but it does not have one officer dedicated to that particular community. This creates an inequality in service provided to one of the middle schools. This can and does result in a lesser chance of having total ability to promote restorative and social justice to all middle schools. An additional 12 month Central SRO should be added to complete the model and provide total security for all middle schools. This will promote an equal service to all middle schools and not just most of them. This will directly result in stronger relationships with the students that attend those schools which often times results in information about crimes that are being planned. The officer has a much greater chance of preventing a tragedy through these relationships versus responding to a crime that has already happened. The 10 month SRO should be converted to a 12 month position. It was originally created as a 10 month position in the spirit of economizing. In actuality, it has created an odd bargaining and managed position that needs to be aligned with the other Central SROs. Making this position 12 months will also make the Central DRO team more robust so it can better serve after hours and weekend events such as dances and sporting events. More importantly, this would enhance the total coverage of the entire school district when other SROs are absent from work. Arming all SROs: This issue was first presented to the cabinet in January 2011. The Security Supervisor was tasked with collecting more data from school districts around the state. The data was collected and then shortly thereafter there was a change of leadership (new superintendent). It seemed appropriate to let the new superintendent get established before presenting this idea. The data collected suggested the Spokane Public Schools (SPS) SROs would easily fall in line with other school districts close to its size that 5|Page

have an armed force in Washington State. The data collected also included levels of commission and how the SROs would be insured outside of the Washington State Risk Management Pool. Ten out of the 12 SROs have had formal firearms training in previous law enforcement or department of corrections jobs. One of the officers is a former law enforcement firearms instructor and the Security Supervisor is the former Assistant Range Master and Firearms Trainer for the Spokane Police Department (SPD). All officers have been trained in proper use of force and would need refresher training to meet current local and state standards. The access to free cross training with the SPD is nearly limitless based on the very positive relationship between the Security Department and the SPD. The most significant impact of arming the SROs is the immediate ability to protect students and staff in the case of an armed gunman attacking a school. Many SPS employees already think the SROs are armed and have an expectation of being protected by officers with guns because of their uniformed appearance. The Security Department looks, acts and works like an armed force but is missing the key piece of equipment to protect students and staff from a lethal attack. The prevailing philosophy is to protect the students and staff members from outside threats, not view the students as the threat. The SPD recently presented in the February 2013 SPD In-service training that SPD response is often minutes to respond to any emergent type of call for service during the day shift due to traffic and current staffing. The SROs may not necessarily be at the exact location of an incident but they are more likely to be closer to respond to a lethal threat than the SPD. High school officers will clearly be more capable of responding to a threat at their site as they are already there and can respond immediately. Armed guards with less training and experience carry guns every day in Spokane Public Schools to protect money being transported to armored vehicles, but SROs do not have guns in schools to protect students and staff. SRO operating hours: All 6 Central SROs work 8:00am to 4:00pm Monday through Friday. This is an appropriate work schedule for the majority of the calls for service except for one type of call; trouble on buses. The SPS has students on buses until nearly 5:00pm. Many of those students are special needs and have significant behavior issues. As it is now, bus drivers have to call the police and they respond based on availability. This is a very bad time of day to get police service for these types of calls and often time drivers with busloads of students are waiting over an hour. This wait often makes things worse. As another example, in February 2013, there was an aggressive father that is a well-known threat to police at an elementary School. He was there to pick up his daughter at 3:00pm but she refused to leave with him. The SPD did not have officers to respond and the Security Department did not have anyone after 4:00pm to serve the school. The Principal was unfairly put in a position to deal with this person for 2 hours before police arrived and eventually he was criminally trespassed from the property. The solution is having 2 officers (one North and one South) work from 9:00am to 5:00pm to be available to serve these students, staff members and bus drivers. This adjustment would be established through a rotating schedule for all Central SROs. 6|Page

Security Response Specialist (SRS): SRS are the non-commissioned night and weekend employees who patrol our facilities, observe and report and assist employees with camera and alarm issues. SRS were originally created to save Spokane Public Schools money. Staff members would accidentally set off burglar alarms after hours and then the police would respond. Police response resulted in the school district being charged for the false alarm. These charges were thousands of dollars. An analysis resulted in 4 new hires to assist staff to eliminate the false alarm charges and stop the negligent use of police resources. The staffing currently includes: 1 (40) hour swing shift 1 (40) hour graveyard shift 1 (32) hour swing/day shift 1 (16) hour graveyard shift This staffing model was designed with a bare-bones philosophy. There is no flexibility at all for one of the SRS to be sick, take vacation or go to training without an SRO taking their place by being placed on standby. Standby is a work status when the SRO is at home but required to monitor the phone for calls from the alarm company and physically respond to calls that cannot be resolved over the phone. At the time of its creation, there were no electronically-locked doors or cameras. Since then, the district has completely changed regarding security and technology. Now there are thousands of door sensors and electronically-locked doors and over one thousand cameras. This staffing model is inadequate and has an adverse effect on the Resource Officers. The officers on standby for swing shift generally are not affected. They are on call from 4:00pm to midnight. However, there has been an increased need for security during board meetings and special work sessions that are required to be open to the public. As it is now, an additional SRS or SRO is paid overtime to be posted at the Administration Building almost every Wednesday night. The graveyard shift has a significant impact. The SROs are often tasked with being on standby from midnight to 8:00am. Their sleep pattern is interrupted by responding to phone calls from the alarm monitoring company and often times are called out to respond to a situation or a burglar alarm at one of our facilities. They are then still expected to report for work at 8:00am and work for the next 8 hours. This results in a less efficient officer for their regular work shift. The sleep deprivation impacts their decision making, mental acuity and the overall ability to perform their primary duties of serving students and staff. The current 2 day graveyard employee should be extended to a full 40 hour person, the 32 hour swing/day person should be extended to a full 40 hour person and an additional third full time


graveyard employee should be added to the team. This will nearly eliminate the need for SROs to be on standby during the graveyard and swing shift earning a savings of $9,500 annually. Community suggestions/feedback/recommendations: After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Spokane Public Schools received an abundance of feedback on areas to study and explore. Listed are common topics: Arming Teachers: Many strongly believe school safety will be improved by providing teachers with a firearm. Conversely, many also believe teachers should not be armed and this debate has taken a national stage. Currently, Washington State law does not allow for teachers to carry guns. Spokane Public School’s insurance carrier does not currently offer coverage for weapons. Metal Detectors: Metal detectors are not recommended at this time. Schools are community centers, and unless they are utilized by everyone accessing a school day or night, the security provided by these detectors is breached. Example: A Saturday gym rental would require the use of metal detectors to guarantee a weapon is not stashed inside the school. Guard Dogs: Concept is to house a police-trained dog in each school. The dog would reside in the student office and be deployed at an intruder. Unknown if this is currently implemented in any public school district. In law enforcement applications, a dog-handler manages the dog during duty times as well as non-working hours—also unknown how this would work in a school environment. Pepper Spray: Suggestion is to place a canister of pepper spray in each classroom of every school in a glass case, similar to a fire extinguisher. Pepper spray is a non-lethal irritant of soft tissues, including eyes, nose, and skin. Body armor for office staff: This topic surfaced from a building, inquiring if office staff should have body armor available for staff working with the public. Body armor is size and gender specific. For this option to be viable, it would need to be worn daily. Volunteers: Suggestions have surfaced about additional volunteers in our schools, with a focus on school security. Could include a partnership with the COPS program or SCOPE program. Spokane Public Schools already has a robust volunteer program and would welcome additional volunteers. The Watch D.O.G.S program (Dads of Great Students) is a national program, encouraging dads to volunteer in schools. This program was inspired by a school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1988 and encourages male figures to volunteer in schools. This program was started at Roosevelt and Willard this school year. Panic buttons: A panic button directly reports to law enforcement. Common in financial institutions, when the button is activated, there is a direct notification to police dispatch. However, the nature of the emergency is not stated. Broadcast over the air to working officers is the message “receiving a holdup alarm at XYZ bank.” Police attempt to call the bank to learn more about the emergency, and officers are dispatched to this location until terminated. Experience in Spokane shows most times, the button is inadvertently activated. New legislation related to panic buttons is proposed for schools in Washington. Recommendation is to monitor and install if mandated. Currently, all schools have a lock8|Page

down switch to quickly lock outside doors in an emergency and when this switch is activated, it notifies district security. Camera access for police and fire: Spokane Public Schools has over 1000 security cameras. These cameras have extreme access restrictions. Building principals have access to only their schools. Security has global access to every camera. During incident command, a school resource officer provides camera access to law enforcement, via a district computer. Recommendation is to collaborate with Spokane Police and Fire to determine the possibility of providing live camera access to supervisors, via the school district network.


Summary Findings:

Immediate Recommendations (now to end of school year) Encourage 100% participation in always wearing employee/volunteer badges in all district facilities. All visitors, including non-building district personnel, to always check in with the school office during school hours. Schools lagging behind on fire/crisis drills must meet standards of the law. Every school should review building’s crisis plan with all staff. Short-Term Recommendations (before the beginning of 2013 school year) Allocate funding for additional School Resource Officers and Security Response Specialist. Allocate funding for additional maintenance electrician to maintain the security system. Collaborate with Spokane Police Department towards seeking approval to arm District School Resource Officers. Provide security camera access for Spokane Police and Fire Department. Capital project site reviews of schools with portables/schools with facility needs as identified in this audit. Long-Term Recommendations (2015-2020 bond cycle) Complete Capital Projects, resulting from internal review. Upgrade locks in all classrooms. Integrated Security System upgrades. Install camera monitors in each school office with live view of entry points. Fencing around all district portable classrooms. Update radio communication with Police and Fire Summary of estimated annual cost and savings of salary and benefits for staffing recommended in this report Eliminating the need for SROs on standby- $9,500 savings SRO enhancement from 10 month to 12 month position- additional $14,600 New SRO position - additional $73,100 SRS upgrade from 16 hours to 40 hours– additional $18,000 SRS upgrade from 32 hours to 40 hours- additional $5,400 New full time SRS position- $22,000 Total additional $100,500 annually for the Security Department Electrician- additional $80,000 10 | P a g e

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