How to Create a School Safety Plan Under California’s CCSP
Discover all the key elements you need to create a school safety plan that complies with California regulations.
Table of Contents
What is California’s CCSP (Comprehensive School Safety Plan)
In 2018, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1747, a law focused on school safety plans in California.
This law mandates that all schools in the state must have comprehensive safety plans that include new rules and procedures designed to ensure the safety of everyone involved. To ensure the quality and effectiveness of these plans, the California Department of Education (CDE) is responsible for reviewing and approving them.
In addition, the CDE provides valuable guidance and insights on its website regarding the best ways to evaluate and authorize these safety plans.
To gather the most valuable information and insights, the CDE conducted a comprehensive survey during the 2020-21 school year. They reached out to schools and individuals with expertise in safety to learn about successful practices, challenges faced by schools, and resources that can be of assistance.
Who is Responsible for the Creation of CCSPs?
Every school district and county office of education is accountable for ensuring the safety of all students from kindergarten to 12th grade. This includes developing comprehensive school safety plans to protect children.
What Kind of Educational Facilities Need a School Safety Plan Under California's Education Code?
Every school in California, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, must have a Comprehensive School Safety Plan (CSSP) in place. This includes:
Public charter schools
The purpose of a comprehensive school safety plan is to identify and address potential risks on campus, prepare for emergencies, and ensure a safe and secure learning environment for students and staff.
School Safety Plans and Small Districts
In school districts with fewer than 2,501 students attending on average each day, there may be one school safety plan that covers all schools within the district. This ensures that even smaller districts are equipped to manage safety concerns effectively.
School Safety Plans and Stakeholders
Every year, designated stakeholders must follow a specific planning process to create strategies and policies for dealing with a range of incidents. These include emergencies, natural and other disasters, hate crimes, violence, as well as cyberbullying, discrimination, and more. The law ensures a proactive approach to safety in schools and other institutions.
How Often Should You Update Your School Safety Plan?
Schools are required by law to update and adopt their school safety plans (CSSPs) by March 1 every year. Each district or county office of education needs to approve these plans. And while there is no specific deadline for approval, the district or COE must let the California Department of Education know by October 15 if any schools haven't followed the requirements.
Keep in mind that effective school safety planning isn't a one-time task. It's an ongoing process that involves regularly reviewing and evaluating the plans, especially in the aftermath of critical incidents.
Key Elements to Create a Comprehensive School Safety Plan
Each school will have unique safety requirements due to its unique needs and current state. However, the following elements are crucial to ensure the efficiency of your school safety plan regardless of your school's size and needs.
Ensure Compliance with Your School Site Council or Designated Planning Committee
To ensure the efficacy and relevance of your school safety plan, it is imperative to establish and maintain compliance with your School Site Council or a designated planning committee. These entities play a pivotal role in fostering a collaborative approach to safety, bringing together diverse perspectives from educators, parents, administrators, and community members.
By engaging the School Site Council or planning committee in the development and periodic review of the safety plan, you harness the collective wisdom and expertise of stakeholders, ensuring that the plan aligns with the unique needs and dynamics of the school community.
Ensure Your Staff Receives the Proper Training
All staff must receive training on the comprehensive school safety plan education code (CCSP EC). All plans must be regularly updated and practiced by the whole school community including teachers, students, and classified/ unclassified staff.
Create a School Safety Plan That Delegates Responsibilities Every school safety plan must be written and created by the designated school site council (SSC). SSCs can delegate this responsibility to a safety committee that is made up by:
Parents of children who attend that school
It is recommended that your committee also takes into consideration students, mental health specialists, nurses, athletic coaches, multilingual speakers in your community, food staff and custodians, local businesses, nonprofits, and/or other stakeholders.
Consult Your School Safety Plan with Your Local Law Enforcement Agency To ensure the safety of your school, it is essential for the safety planning committee to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and other first responders annually. This enables regular updates to the Comprehensive School Safety Plan (CSSP). Be sure to notify law enforcement agencies of any changes throughout the year.
Create a Plan for Every Scenario
All school safety plans must include the following components to be considered effective.
School Crime Rate Assessment
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Procedures
Disaster Procedures such as routine and emergency planning, crisis response plans, and tailored safety plans for students with disabilities
Earthquake Emergency Procedures
School Building Disaster Plans
Procedures to help public agencies, like the American Red Cross, make use of school facilities, grounds, and equipment for emergency shelters
Policies and procedures to notify teachers of dangerous students
Procedures to implement safe entry/exit routes for all staff and students in and out of the school site
Maintenance of a safe and orderly environment conducive to learning at schools
Rules and procedures on school disciple
Tactical response procedures to deal with criminal incidents including guns, and other school-related functions
Work together with other school site councils or safety planning committees to consult, cooperate, and coordinate. Collaborate and share ideas with your peers for the best possible safety planning
Bullying/Cyber Bullying Training
Every year, schools are required to provide certificated staff and school site employees who regularly interact with students with access to the CDE's online training resources on addressing and preventing bullying and cyberbullying.
Do public meetings to discuss and share your thoughts on your school's safety plan goals. Listen to the input from parents, community members, and other designated invitees before finalizing the plan.
Update and Review Your Plans in a Timely Manner
Remember that your school safety plan must be reviewed, updated, and adopted by March 1 every year.
Inform Any Setbacks
Every school district or COE must inform the CDE every year before October 15 about any schools that have failed to meet the requirements. As per EC Section 32288.
Tips to Design Comprehensive School Safety Plans
Include Clear Guidelines & Roles in Your School Safety Plan
Establishing a comprehensive set of guidelines and roles allows the school community can respond promptly and effectively to any situation, minimizing confusion and promoting a cohesive, coordinated effort to ensure the safety and security of all individuals on campus.
Include Procedures to Deal with Toxic and Natural Disaster
These procedures ought to encompass evacuation routes, shelter-in-place protocols, and communication methods during and after such events. Regular training and drills should be an integral part of the safety planning process to ensure that students and staff are well-acquainted with these procedures, promoting a swift and coordinated response in the face of real emergencies.
Continuous assessment and updates to these procedures, informed by feedback and evolving risk assessments, will bolster the resilience of the school community against these potential threats.
Designate Lock-down, Evacuation, and Shelter Areas That are Age Appropriate
In the development of a comprehensive school safety plan, it is imperative to include age-appropriate lockdown, shelter-in-place, and evacuation procedures. Recognizing the diverse needs and capabilities of students across different age groups, the plan should provide clear and easily understandable instructions tailored to each developmental stage.
Lockdown procedures should be designed to be reassuring and not instill unnecessary fear, with age-appropriate language and communication methods. Shelter-in-place guidelines should consider the duration of stay and include measures to address the specific needs of younger students.
Evacuation procedures should account for the varying abilities of students to follow instructions independently.
Regular and age-specific drills are crucial to familiarize students with these procedures, ensuring that they can respond calmly and effectively in emergency situations.
Create Youth Suicide Prevention Policies
Make sure to include the Youth Suicide Prevention Policy in the CSSP. You can find all the necessary information on the CDE Youth Suicide Prevention web page.
Create a Plan to Combat Pandemics and Potential Influenza Outbreaks
In the context of school safety planning, the inclusion of a Pandemic Influenza Checklist and Resources, as well as a dedicated Pandemic Plan within the Comprehensive School Safety Plan (CSSP), is critical for preparedness and response.
The Pandemic Plan integrated into the CSSP should provide a comprehensive framework that aligns with public health guidelines and local regulations. It should outline roles and responsibilities, communication strategies, and procedures for remote learning if traditional in-person instruction is disrupted. The plan should also include guidelines for monitoring and responding to the health and well-being of students and staff, emphasizing collaboration with health authorities.
Create a COOP Plan
Including a continuity of operations plan (COOP) is crucial to ensure the success of your school safety plan. Your COOP should outline key personnel, their roles, and responsibilities during emergencies, emphasizing the need for cross-training to mitigate potential staffing gaps as well as identify critical resources, including technology and facilities, necessary for the continuous delivery of educational services.
By incorporating a COOP into the school safety plan, educational institutions can proactively prepare for and respond to unforeseen circumstances, minimizing downtime and ensuring the ongoing well-being of students, staff, and the broader school community.
Keep Your Comprehensive School Safety Plan Protected
A filtration of your school safety plan could put the whole community at risk. Implementing the right physical security and cybersecurity measures is crucial to protect your students, teachers, parents, and stakeholders' well-being.
Prepare for Natural Disasters with The Help of Your Local Emergency Services
Effective school safety planning necessitates the inclusion of comprehensive procedures to address both toxic incidents and natural disasters. In preparing for toxic events, the plan should provide clear steps for the identification, containment, and response to hazardous materials.
This includes protocols for safe evacuation, communication strategies to keep stakeholders informed, and guidelines for seeking medical and law enforcement assistance when necessary. Simultaneously, anticipating and preparing for natural disasters is paramount. The safety plan should articulate specific procedures tailored to potential threats like earthquakes, floods, or severe weather.
Keep Diversity in Mind
You need parents and guardians to be informed and understand your reunification plans in case of an emergency. It's crucial that they cooperate with first responders. Make sure you communicate your school safety plan in a language that everyone can understand. Your school safety plan and other safety materials should be available in other languages beside English to include limited English proficient families.
School Safety Planning: Best Practices for Schools
As the school, it is your responsibility to regularly review and update policies, procedures, and important data needed for the CSSP and its proper execution. It is also your role to carefully analyze the data and understand how it specifically affects the unique culture of your school.
From there, you should establish two goals based on this data—one for the physical school site and one for the overall school climate.
Turn School Safety Planning and On-going Task Choose a school site safety leader to work closely with the SSC/safety planning committee and the district/COE school safety contacts. The school safety leader should be responsible for:
Provide training/professional development.
Encourage collaboration and partnership with stakeholders.
Have enough time to diligently perform all his duties as a school safety plan leader.
Encourage Student Participation
Fostering a culture of safety within a school community involves encouraging active student participation in School Site Council (SSC) or School Safety Committee meetings.
By inviting them to contribute their perspectives, insights, and concerns, schools empower students to become active agents in their own well-being. This engagement not only enhances the effectiveness of safety measures but also instills a sense of responsibility and ownership among students
Promote Your School Safety Plan Regularly
One great way to promote your school safety plan is by discussing and role-playing emergency scenarios in staff meetings. Don't forget to include your certificated staff in these sessions too. They play a crucial role in guiding students during emergencies.
By practicing and discussing these scenarios, your staff will become more familiar with emergency protocols and their designated roles. This interactive approach not only boosts confidence but also fosters a shared responsibility for maintaining a secure learning environment.
Create Age-Appropriate Safety Protocols
One key aspect of keeping schools safe is conducting drills that are appropriate for students' ages. By customizing these drills to match the developmental stages of students, you can ensure that everyone in the school community, regardless of their age, is fully prepared to respond effectively during emergencies.
Have a Crisis Response Box & Emergency Supplies Kit
Establishing a crisis response box is a tangible step toward ensuring preparedness and swift action during emergencies. This box serves as a centralized repository, housing critical resources like maps, keys, student and staff emergency cards, and essential medical information.
By proactively creating and maintaining a well-equipped crisis response box, schools enhance their capacity to respond effectively to unforeseen situations, prioritizing the safety and well-being of the entire school community.
Establish Relationships with Local First Responders and Invite Them to The School
Inviting local police, fire departments, and emergency medical services to the school site, educators and staff foster a collaborative partnership that is invaluable during critical situations.
These relationships facilitate a shared understanding of the school layout, emergency procedures, and potential challenges unique to the site.
Moreover, it allows first responders to familiarize themselves with the school community, enabling more efficient and coordinated responses in times of need.
Ensure Substitute Teachers are Aware of Your School Safety Plan
Providing substitutes with comprehensive knowledge of the safety plan equips them to respond effectively to various scenarios, ensuring the continuity of safety protocols even in the absence of regular classroom teachers.
Conduct Safety Assessments Regularly
By routinely reviewing and updating safety measures, schools can proactively identify potential vulnerabilities and implement necessary improvements. Regular safety assessments not only ensure that the school's safety plan remains current but also provide an opportunity for continuous improvement.
School Safety Planning: Best Practices for Districts
Monitor All Schools in Your Districts Regularly
Provide ongoing training and support to school personnel while maintaining up-to-date policies and procedures. Regular data collection on safety incidents and drill performances helps identify areas for improvement, ensuring a proactive approach to security.
Establish Relationships with Local First Responders
Establish strong connections with local stakeholder agencies, such as law enforcement and health services, to create a collaborative and coordinated response in emergencies.
Establish a Districtwide Safety Committee
A Districtwide safety committee will allow you to collaborate, pool insights, and share experiences to bolster safety measures across the district. Committee meetings are the heartbeat of a proactive and united approach to school safety.
Track Your Progress
Track, monitor, and ensure safety plan adoptions and approvals are done efficiently using a document-tracking system, both at the school and district levels.
Create School Safety Plan Templates
Help schools keep their students safe with comprehensive guidance, support, training, and an easy-to-use safety plan template.
Take Your School District’s Safety Plan Serious
Make it mandatory for schools to assess their sites, participate in on-site activities, and provide support for improvements.
Create a Threat Assessment Team
A Threat Assessment Team is made up of officials who come together to identify, assess, and handle any threats or potential threats to school safety. These teams investigate incidents of threatening behavior from current and former students, parents, school staff, or anyone else involved with the school.
School Safety Planning: Best Practices for County Offices of Education (COE)
The main task of COEs (County Offices of Education), is to oversee the comprehensive development of CSSPs (Comprehensive School Safety Plans) for all the schools in our district. This includes not only regular public schools, but also court, community, and alternative schools.
Training, Support, and Oversight
Offer comprehensive training, support, and oversight, ensuring that all policies and procedures are properly maintained. Our team also collects and analyzes relevant data, and effectively communicates with stakeholder agencies.
Coordination with Partnering Agencies
It is imperative that COE schools collaborate closely with partnering agencies in crafting CSSPs. This collaborative approach ensures a holistic and well-informed safety plan that addresses the unique needs of each school community.
District Certification of CSSPs
Get your district certified with CSSPs to ensure compliance. OEs are relying on districts to certify that their schools have CSSPs in place.
Conduct County-Wide Safety Committee Meetings & Training
Bringing together safety directors, coordinators, and other key stakeholders from districts and schools to enhance communication, collaboration, and build relationships with law enforcement, fire representatives, local businesses, and community partners.
As part of their proactive approach, OEs host countywide training.
What Tools Can You Use to Support Your School Safety Plan?
Access control systems can significantly enhance your school safety plan by regulating entry to buildings and specific areas within the school. These systems, which may include key cards, biometric scanners, or PIN codes, help prevent unauthorized access. By restricting entry points, schools can better control who enters the premises, promoting a secure environment for students, staff, and visitors.
Security cameras serve as a crucial tool for monitoring and surveillance, contributing to both deterrence and response in various situations. Strategically placed cameras can help identify potential threats, monitor activities in real time, and provide valuable footage for investigative purposes. The presence of visible cameras can function as a deterrent to unruly behavior and bullying while enhancing overall safety and peace of mind within school grounds.
Burglar and Fire Alarms
Burglar and fire alarm systems are fundamental components of school safety planning. Burglar alarms help safeguard against unauthorized access during non-operational hours, while fire alarms are essential for early detection, effective communication, and rapid response to potential fire incidents.
Both systems contribute to a swift and coordinated emergency response, minimizing risks and ensuring the safety of everyone on campus.
Effective communication systems, such as intercoms, two-way radios, and mass notification platforms, are critical for disseminating information quickly during emergencies. These systems facilitate efficient coordination among staff, students, and emergency responders. Clear communication is key to implementing safety protocols, conducting evacuations, and keeping the entire school community informed in various situations.
In the digital age, cybersecurity services are essential for protecting sensitive information and maintaining the integrity of school systems. Safeguarding networks, databases, and communication channels from cyber threats is crucial to prevent disruptions, unauthorized access, and the potential compromise of sensitive data. A robust cybersecurity framework supports the overall resilience of a school's operational and informational infrastructure.
In addition to making your school safety plan more effective and easier to manage, security system integration will allow you to increase your school safety plan's effectiveness while reducing your costs.
Looking for School Safety Solutions?
BTI has 35+ years providing comprehensive and low-cost school safety solutions. Whether you need help with the installation, maintenance, and upkeep of your solutions, or you need assistance with the design and implementation of your school safety plan, we are here to help.
Schedule your free consultation today to take the next step towards compliance and unmatched school safety!