TEA Commissioner Mike Morath shared important information this last week on Hurricane Harvey-affected schools in a press release as well as the accompanying information in Chapter 10 of the 2018 Accountability Manual. In summary, if a campus that meets at least one of the Hurricane Harvey criteria receives an Improvement Required rating, the campus will be labeled Not Rated. If a district or open-enrollment charter school meets at least one of the Hurricane Harvey criteria and receives a B, C, D, or F rating, the district or open-enrollment charter school will be labeled Not Rated.
Commissioner Morath’s letter on school safety provides a wealth of information that charter leaders should be aware of as you plan for the 2018-19 school year. If you haven’t read the letter, I highly recommend you do so as there are a number of school safety-related resources that you can access immediately. In addition, the letter notes that ESSA funding for Title IV has increased by about $62 million dollars for Texas schools for 2018-19. The additional funds can be used to make school safety improvements on campuses, including counseling and mental health programs, addressing ways to integrate health and safety practices into school or athletic programs, and disseminating best practices and evaluating program outcomes relating to any LEA activities to promote student safety and violence prevention.
The letter addresses coordination and cooperation with local law enforcement, and my experience as a charter superintendent in East Texas affirms that this is not only a great idea, it’s an easy thing to do. During the course of each summer I would invite our local police and fire departments to our campus to do an extensive walk-through of our buildings. The officers and firefighters got the benefit of knowing our buildings for future reference, and they were able to provide a lot of helpful information to our administrative staff on best practices for safety, security, and building evacuations. In addition, I realized that our law enforcement and firefighters got a chance to know a little bit more about our school including what ages of students we served, enrollment numbers, and special programs – everything we assumed that other people knew about our school but that they may not actually have understood until they saw our campus and met our personnel.
TCSA is committed to assisting member schools in meeting your safety and security training needs. This summer, we are offering at no-cost to member schools four on-demand courses in our training portal related to student safety and security:
Active Shooter Threats – Best Practices for School Safety – a discussion of actions that schools can take now to minimize potential threats to student safety;
School Safety and Security in Today’s Challenging Environment - steps to take in emergency situations of all kinds;
Health and Safety Overview - an overview of policies and procedures charters will need to be compliant with state law in the area of health and safety including immunizations, EpiPens, suicide prevention, asthma, SBEC reporting, school visitors, open carry, school notices and asbestos management.
Special Topics in Health and Safety, which presents the Texas School Safety Center K-12 Standard Response Protocol (SRP) Toolkit and offers guidance and resources for incorporating the Standard Response Protocol into a school safety plan for critical incident response within individual schools in a school district or charter school.
We hope that you take advantage of these free resources as well as those in Commissioner Morath’s letter. We will also have a number of safety and security-related breakout sessions at our TCSA Conference October 24-26 in Houston. As always, please reach out to TCSA so we can be a resource to help you in your efforts to keep your charter schools safe and secure!