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Home> Emergency School Planning Information > School Shootings:_ What We Can Learn from this Terrible Week

School Shootings: What We Can Learn from this Terrible Week

A Special Newswire from Federal News Services/PaperClip Communications

October 2, 2006

Multiple school shootings in the past week, including the one currently unfolding at an Amish school in eastern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, have pushed school safety into the spotlight yet again.


While authorities and medical personnel sorted out today’s scene in a one-room Amish schoolhouse where multiple people were shot during a hostage situation, two schools in North Las Vegas went into lockdown when a non-student was spotted with a gun. A 15-year-old student reportedly upset over a reprimand killed his school principal in Cazenovia, Wisconsin last Friday. And the adult who took six female students hostage in a Bailey, Colorado classroom last Wednesday, sexually assaulted them and killed a 16-year-old before killing himself.


It’s almost too much to bear, especially in a day and age when school lockdowns are practiced and a police presence is often felt. Your students and staff are likely reacting in very natural ways to the continuously awful news this past week, with fear, anger – and the desire to create even safer school communities.


Quite a few crisis resources exist to help schools in both proactive and reactive ways. They include:


The National Education Association’s “Crisis Communication Guide & Toolkit”

This tool offers information that can be used to conduct drills, revise crisis manuals, improve crisis response, come to the immediate aid of affected individuals and consult when needed.


The Crisis Response Box: A Guide to Help Every School Assemble the Tools and Resources Needed for a Critical Incident Response, from the California Attorney General and State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Safety Schools Task Force

This comprehensive resource was created to guide schools in crisis prevention planning and in responding to a critical incident. It suggests including everything from aerial photos of the school campus to blueprints to fire alarm turn-off procedures to student photos in your school’s box.


The U.S. Department of Education’s “Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities”

This 146-page pdf document offers practical tools such as Action Checklists and tabletop exercises, plus information on lockdowns, evacuations, relocations, dealing with the media, considering special needs of staff and students, and much more.


The U.S. Department of Education’s “Preparing Your School for a Crisis” Page

This resource links to a “Practical Information on Crisis Planning” brochure while also providing information on mitigation/prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.


National School Safety Center’s “Checklist of Characteristics of Youth Who Have Caused School-Associated Violent Deaths”

In addition to other school safety materials, this checklist offers valuable insight into characteristics that may alert school staff to troubled students.

** Also learn about Safe Schools Week, October 15-21, 2006 at


School Planning and Management Magazine’s “Improving Your

Emergency/Crisis Response Plan”

This article offers tips on building your emergency/crisis response plan, from using a code system to implementing an Educational Facilities Officer Program and more.