Indiana's Approach to School Safety

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The Indiana Department of Education, through its School Safety Specialist Academy, is a national leader in the preparation of individuals responsible for safety and security plans for all of the state’s traditional public schools. Established in 1999 in response to the shooting at Columbine High School, the Academy hosts two regional training sessions annually.

The Academy is nationally recognized for its training, both at basic and advanced levels. Indiana law mandates every traditional public school district have at least one trained school safety specialist. This person must participate in both the basic and advanced training courses offered through the Academy. Significant district-wide responsibilities are assigned to the school safety specialist, including overseeing the development of a safety plan for each school building in the district and serving as a district resource on discipline, safety, and security.

Indiana School Safety

A majority of these responsibilities are assigned to either a principal or assistant principal. However, teachers, deans, resource officers, and superintendents may also serve as the school safety specialist. Training is provided at no cost to the participants. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute provide grant funding to support the School Safety Specialist Academy. Depending on school district size, there could be anywhere from one to 20 school safety specialists.

With the increase in school violence incidents nationwide—and mounting public pressure to improve overall school safety and security—the Academy has seen a 93 percent increase in attendees throughout the past eight years. As a hub for best practices and innovative planning, the Academy has emerged as a reliable resource for school safety training. The Indiana Department of Education Division of School Building Physical Security and Safety staff, with deep knowledge of school safety supported by experienced leadership, has positioned the School Safety Specialist Academy as a trusted resource for state and national school leaders to use when creating or updating school safety plans.

Given the necessity for school safety planning, the Academy also provides guidance on legislative and policy developments, fiscal constraints, safe building construction and renovations, planning effective drills, and the critical role of civic and government partnerships. This wealth of information is shared within the two annual Academy regional trainings.

In early May, more than 1,200 individuals participated in the two-day Advanced School Safety Academy. This intensive series of presentations and discussions highlighted best practices and connected school safety specialists from across the state with leaders in various areas of safety and security. As part of the Academy, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick hosted a State Education Chief Roundtable, bringing together school leaders from around the country. During several dynamic discussions, leaders shared best practices, the importance of collaboration, and a commitment to providing the resources and guidance needed to keep schools safe.

Through the School Safety Specialist Academy, the Indiana Department of Education has established itself and continues to be at the forefront of school safety and security planning, training, and implementation. Additional information about the Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy is available here: further information, please contact Kelly Wittman, Indiana Department of Education Senior Advisor,

You also can learn more about CCSSO's School Safety Steering Committee here

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