Schools: A Duty to Protect
Since Jefferson founded public education for the citizens of the United States, schools have been charged with the safety of children in their care – a duty to protect. Teachers and administrators have a responsibility to anticipate potential dangers and to take precautions to protect their students from those dangers. An examination of the horrific school shootings from 1999 onward raises the haunting question, “What is the quality of that protection?” Are schools using the best protocol possible?
ALICE: The new Standard of Care
If a school district fails its duty to protect students from injury and an appropriate standard of care was not used, the district can be found negligent. The standard of care is not a statute or regulation that can be pointed to and expounded upon. The standard of care is a concept that is argued in courtrooms requiring school districts to answer questions like:
1. Did you comply with federal & state recommendations?
2. Is your policy consistent with comparable schools?
3. Did you comply with your own stated policy?
Download (PDF) US Department of Education K-12 Guidelines
US Department of Education aligns with ALICE
On June 18, 2013, Vice President Biden released new guidelines for school safety that align and build upon years of emergency planning work by the Federal government. This guide incorporates lessons learned from recent incidents, and responds to the needs and concerns voiced by stakeholders following the recent shootings in Newtown, CT.
The 2013 edition expands the guidance to include multiple options that go beyond the lockdown-only advice they published in 2007. New guidance includes Run, Hide or Fight. It also recognizes that staff and students may have to use more than one option and that the decision to do so should be made using their own judgment.
Lockdown is no Longer Enough!
“There are three basic options: run, hide, or fight. You can run away from the shooter, seek a secure place where you can hide and/or deny the shooter access, or incapacitate the shooter to survive and protect others from harm.” [Page 63] “If running is not a safe option, hide in as safe a place as possible. Students and staff should be trained to hide in a location where the walls might be thicker and have fewer windows. In addition: Hide along the wall closest to the exit but out of the view from the hallway (allowing for an ambush of the shooter and for possible escape if the shooter enters the room).” [Page 65] MULTIPLE RESPONSE OPTIONS NEEDED “As the situation develops, it is possible that students and staff will need to use more than one option.” [Page 64] THOSE IN HARMS WAY SHOULD MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS “While they should follow the plan and any instructions given during an incident, often they will have to rely on their own judgment to decide which option will best protect lives.” [Page 64]
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Aligns with ALICE
Founded in 1893, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is the world’s oldest and largest association of law enforcement executives, representing over 22,000 members in 100 countries. The document presents strategies and approaches for members of school communities to consider when creating safer learning environments.
In its 1st edition, the IACP guidance for active shooters response was limited to lockdown. The most current edition expands the guidance to include multiple options that go beyond lockdown including evacuation and active resistance. It also contemplates the absence of adult direction that sometimes unfortunately happens during an active shooter even.
Lockdown is No Longer Enough
“Active resistance is fighting back with any objects of opportunity, such as chairs, desk, and books. Active resistance is a last resort and should only be used if potential victims are trapped in a room with an active shooter, there are already victims, and all other personal survival recommendations are no longer an option. There have been cases where active resistance has been successfully used, such as a shooting in Springfield, Oregon.” [Page 24]
Those in Harm’s way should make their own Decisions
“Teachers should make decision about lockdown or evacuation on their own only in life-threatening situations, as specified in the school crisis management plan.” [Page 24]
“In the absence of adult direction, decide where it is safest to be and remain there.” [Page 25]
Download (PDF) Ohio Attorney General Safety Task Force
Ohio Attorney General School Safety Task Aligns with ALICE
In December 2012, after a tragic shooting that cost 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine formed this task force to make recommendations on school safety. Included is a recommended safety plan.
Included in the Ohio Attorney Generals (AG) recommendations is the concept that Lockdown is no longer a standalone strategy to secure in place. The AG’s and his Ohio School Safety Task Force new recommendations included all of the training protocols found in ALICE including barricading, evacuating and countering. It empowers and authorizes decision making by those people under attack.
Lockdown is no Longer Enough!
“Lockdown is not a stand-alone defense strategy.” [Page 50] “When securing in place, this procedure should involve barricading the door and readying a plan of evacuation or counter tactics should the need arise.” [Page 50] “Do not place students in one location within the room. In the event that entry is gained by a shooter or intruder, students should consider exiting by running past the shooter/intruder.” [Page 59] “Staff and students may utilize methods to distract the shooter/intruder’s ability to accurately shoot or cause harm, such as loud noises or aiming and throwing objects at the shooter/intruder’s face or person. [Page 50] “If students and school personnel are outside of the school at the time of a LOCKDOWN, teachers should move students to the designated off-site location.” [Page 51] “If an intruder enter and begins shooting, any and all actions to stop the shooter are justified. This includes moving about the room to lessen accuracy, throwing items (books, computers, phones, book bags) to create confusion, exiting out windows, and confronting (assault, subdue, choke) to stop the intruder. Tell students to get out any way possible and move to another location” [Page 59]
Strong schools, strong communities
Strong school systems are vital to every community. A good school system provides quality education, creative inspiration and healthy social engagement. But a good school must also, at its core, ensure safety for its students. Instructing students on safety measures not only protects them from possible danger but also instills confidence and self-reliance.
Addressing safety issues gives a community assurance in its schools and can lead to better and more comprehensive school levies, strengthening the system and the community at large.
Arming teachers with education
Recently, some districts have considered allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom. At the ALICE Training Institute, we believe the best solution is to arm teachers with the education on how to respond to an armed intruder.
ALICE training for K-12 schools relies on age-appropriate curriculum developed by Co-Founder Lisa Crane and peer-reviewed by an advisory board. Lisa draws from her extensive background as a special education, general education teacher, school counselor, principal, and child therapist to ensure that all curriculums, drills and messaging are psychologically sound.
The examples and methods explained during ALICE Training are based on the current school environment where training takes place, giving teachers and administrators tangible visual demonstrations to best protect their school.
Find out how to get your school ALICE certified.
The ALICE Training Institute offers school districts options that mitigate liability, assume less risk and, most importantly, equip students and faculty with life-saving skills. ALICE provides the new standard of care.