A Conversation About School Violence

20130110-125219.jpgIn recent days the politicians have been calling for a “conversation” on school violence and gun control. Apart from the fact that a one-sided lecture isn’t the same as a conversation, I personally find it a little odd that the people most affected by the issue of school violence and mass killings in schools don’t have a voice in the conversation.

So, I decided to have a conversation about school violence with my nearest subject matter expert. I’ve talked before about my daughter, “Nutmeg”, but for the newcomers, she’s seventeen years old and attends a special school program that provides her extra supports with emotional and behavioral challenges caused by past trauma in her birth family. (Before you start screaming about her privacy, she read this post before I made it and doesn’t object to what I’ve said here.)

We talked while out running errands today, and the conversation went something like this – I’ve tried to reproduce the flavor of how she talks as faithfully as I can:

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School Safety Plan?

I received a big packet of paperwork in the mail from Nutmeg’s school yesterday. As I always do – my paralegal training showing through, I guess – I actually sat down to read all the paperwork, disclosure notices, rules, etc. My daughter’s in a special education program, so we get quite a volume of stuff at the beginning of the year and this process took a while.

Buried on page 11 of a 32-page booklet was this interesting morsel:

School Safety Plan

Every year, each school shall review and update its plan by March 1. Each school shall make its plan public and shall report its school safety plan to numerous community leaders, school site personnel and parent groups. Plans should, among other things, provide guidance for the prevention of bullying, and key elements are to be described in the school accountability report card. Planned responses to criminal incidents need not be disclosed.

As you can imagine, reading this got me thinking: What will my daughter’s school do in the event of an “active shooter” incident? Heck, what will they do in the event of an earthquake?

Since the school states that they won’t release any information about their planned responses to criminal acts, I don’t really have any way to evaluate how safe my daughter would be in such an occurrence. But, it seems to me, keeping kids safe in school – at least at Nutmeg’s school – is problematic for several reasons:

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