ADE Director's Communication Memo Form


Memo Number : SI-99-048

Date Created : 11/23/1998

Attention:

Superintendents
Co-op Directors
Secondary Principals
Elementary Principals

Type of Memo: Informational
Response Required: No
   
Section:   School Improvement and Instructional Support - Dr. Kevin Penix
Subject:
Safe Schools Committee Recommendations

Regulatory Authority:
Act 1346 of 1997

Contact Person:
Dr. Kevin Penix

Phone Number:
501-682-4219

E-mail:
kpenix@arkedu.state.k12.ar.us

Act 1346 of 1997 is an act to create a "Safe Schools" committee to recommend model policies and procedures for safe schools, and or other purposes. A committee on "Safe Schools" was created. The committee studied model policies and procedures and is making the following recommendations to Arkansas school districts as required by Act 1346 of 1997.

INTRODUCTION

With vision and forethought, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 1346 of 1997. This legislation formed a committee of Arkansas educators, school board members, concerned citizens, and legislators to study the issue and send schools meaningful recommendations regarding safe schools. This 12-member committee, which has met since March 1998, reviewed a variety of policies, programs, and practices that promote safe schools in Arkansas.

The Safe Schools Committee recognized that some Arkansas school districts have comprehensive regulations for dealing with school safety. However, enforcement and application of policies and plans concerning school safety are not consistent throughout the state's 310 school districts. The Committee's recommendations will allow districts to focus on awareness, prevention, and intervention. These recommendations seek to ensure that every Arkansas public school student has an opportunity to learn in an emotionally and physically safe place.

In Arkansas, we have continuously attempted to meet the challenge of giving our children safe schools. However, recent events in schools across America have served to re-focus our attention on the need to ensure that our students, teachers, and communities have safe schools. Media accounts would paint a picture of schools filled with unruly, disrespectful, and disorderly children. Incidentally, it is likely that unsafe schools are not as pervasive as is feared. In fact, many school administrators and teachers think that Arkansas schools are among the safest places a child can be each day.

If a strategy is not included on the list it does not necessarily mean that the strategy is not acceptable.


AWARNESS

To integrate education and discipline with a systemic look at the influences on violence

To coordinate collaboration between state agencies and local communities

To create a curriculum that includes:

character education with locally determined traits
conflict resolution
problem solving
prejudice reduction
cultural diversity
sexual harassment reduction
gang awareness
negative consequences of gang involvement
activities to foster a sense of belonging at school
interpreting body language and early indicators of anger
practical options of dealing with anger
law and legal consequences of violent behavior
dealing with abuse
relationship of alcohol and drug abuse to violence
media literacy

To develop instructional strategies that include:

multi-age grouping
peer mentoring/tutoring
role playing
individual/group problem solving
current events


INTERVENTION

To create an awareness of the district and building crisis response plan through staff development prior to the beginning of student attendance

To annually review and update the crisis plan and responsibilities of school personnel

To conduct drills and/or exercises to examine the effectiveness and responsiveness of the crisis plan

To identify and coordinate with groups that may be utilized during a time of crisis, such as:

community groups
churches
civic clubs
voluntary organizations

local, county and state professional services

local, county and state emergency services
Department of Health
Department of Human Services
Department of Education

juvenile justice system
court system and personnel
Department of Youth Services
Juvenile Services Agencies

To develop a relationship with local media and to coordinate the dissemination of crisis information via a media liaison

To explore the use of alternative education as a means of intervention


PREVENTION

To develop and implement a violence prevention curriculum that would include:

conflict management
conflict resolution
positive self-concept

To establish a positive school climate where students and adults treat others with respect

To develop and implement recognition programs that contribute to positive student behavior

To reinforce positive behavior through a clean, comfortable and well-supervised environment

To implement mentoring and peer education programs

To assist students in developing problem solving skills

To train staff, parents and the community to look for warning signals in student behavior, such as:

decline in grades
inappropriate group association
change in friends
withdrawal from others

To initiate early parental contact and involvement when a problem is identified

To establish a strong line of open communication with administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community groups

To create opportunities for student success within the schools

To encourage extracurricular involvement that promotes positive student behavior

To create a system of regular monitoring and assessment

To develop and implement pre-kindergarten programs


SAFE SCHOOLS COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Dr. Randy Bridges, Chairman, Director of Student Services - Fort Smith Schools
The Honorable James Argue, State Senator
The Honorable Shane Broadway, State Representative
Mr. Roy Rowe, Superintendent - Hot Springs School District
Mr. Ron Wilson, Superintendent - Carlisle School District
Ms. Estelle Matthis, Arkansas Department of Education
Ms. Eleanor Coleman, Arkansas Education Association
Ms. Sue Smith, Arkansas Education Association
Mr. Andrew Tolbert, Assistant Superintendent, Pine Bluff School District
Ms. Joan Noesser,Teacher, Blevins High School
Ms. Judy Magness, School Board Member, Little Rock School District
Mr. Perry Newman, School Board Member, Lavaca School District


Attachments:
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