This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.
School has started again, and for parents like me, it is often a time met with mixed emotions. While it is exciting to have the kids out of the house, back on a schedule and see their continued growth and development, in today’s world it is also honestly terrifying.
Given that I work in the security industry, it is especially frustrating to feel helpless when it comes to the safety of my own children’s schools. I have been devastated by every news story of school violence and wonder like so many, ‘when will it stop?’
After Uvalde in 2022, I decided to do more than continue to write to my elected officials. I was aware of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) through industry connections and reached out to get involved. PASS is a nonprofit 501c3 bringing together expertise from the education, public safety, and industry communities to develop and support a coordinated approach to making effective and appropriate decisions with respect to safety and security investments.
PASS has developed guidelines and a safety and security checklist for schools that are available free of charge. The organization offers a plan of action, helping fill the gap and provides schools with a comprehensive framework to enhance security measures.
After joining the outreach committee of PASS, I began to understand why protecting schools is such a struggle from a physical security perspective. I was unaware of the lack of standard guidelines for ensuring safety and security in schools. Likewise, schools across the country have vast differences in funding, which also contributes to difficulties in creating legislation.
Then I ran into challenges with sharing the guidelines with school administrators I personally knew. I was met with, “Oh, we follow this [insert name] protocol,” or “those decisions are made above my head.” I was initially frustrated, but then learned to change my approach. Now I focus on the facts. The PASS guidelines:
- Are only 84 pages – it doesn’t hurt to simply read them and see if you can learn something.
- Offer specific actions that can effectively raise the baseline of security.
- Include vetted security practices specific to K-12 environments.
- Include objective, reliable information on available safety and security technology.
- Provide an assessment of current security measures against nationwide best practices.
- Offer multiple options for addressing security needs.
- Show how to distinguish needed and effective solutions from sales pitches on unnecessary products.
At PSA, we have many integrators working with K-12 schools. I encourage them to familiarize themselves with the PASS guidelines and share them with their end-users. Have them review PASS’s safety and security checklist and take the assessment to see where they stack up. Likewise, review the top 10 safety and security pitfalls in the PASS guidelines. This is an easy place to start.
As a parent, share the guidelines with your school administrators, PTO/PTA, district and local law enforcement agencies. I have been talking to as many of my mom friends who will listen, so they share the news about PASS with their school networks as well.
The security profession and industry has always recognized that the best approach to security is a layered approach. Just like PASS offers a layered approach to security, our attempt to share the guidelines far and wide should be the same. To learn more or get involved, visit https://passk12.org.
Candice Aragon is VP of Marketing and Education for PSA Security Network. Request more info about PSA at www.securityinfowatch.com/10214742.