Statement of Beliefs
1. The social/emotional well-being of students is as important as their academic performance. Together they contribute to a healthy school environment that is essential to the reduction of behaviors that threaten the safety of the school community.
2. Everyone who comes in contact with students and a school system has a responsibility to help create and sustain a healthy school environment and to ensure a student’s social/emotional well-being. The school should ensure that every student has a positive relationship with an adult within their academic setting.
3. The school environment, culture, approaches to discipline, and interface with the community is crucial to the well-being of all students, and particularly to those students who are alienated from the school program and those with behavioral and/or mental health issues.
4. Schools and communities are responsible for determining how they will collaborate to create a systematic approach to school safety.
5. To create a healthy school environment and reduce threatening behaviors , schools and communities should:
- Strive to adopt comprehensive, evidence-based and promising practices that reduce violence by successfully addressing conflict and resolving problems; identifying youth at-risk early; providing behavioral health and wrap-around services; and building on the strengths of families and young people seeking the education and skills to lead safe and fulfilling lives.
- Prioritize training for those working in schools and with students, including law enforcement personnel and school resource officers, in developmentally sensitive, collaborative, proactive, restorative, positive, relationship-oriented, and communication-enhancing approaches that help students with behavioral challenges.
- Reject policies and practices that have the unintended consequence of increasing the number of youth who unnecessarily come in contact with law enforcement, the courts, and the justice system.
- Adopt policies and practices that are structured to continually evolve based on new data and community needs.
- Adopt policies and practices that offer students behavioral, social, and emotional supports and learning programs.
- Adopt policies and practices that include substance abuse prevention
6. Utilize the most up-to-date practices to assure the safety and security of schools to include ongoing site assessments, target hardening, procedures, protocols, and policies. Continued learning is necessary to maintain the most current practices in all venues- mental health as well as tactical.
The Maine School Safety Center’s Purpose and Authority
The purpose of the Maine School Safety Center (MSSC) is to serve as;
- A central location for school safety and security information, including research, training, and technical assistance related to successful implementation of school safety and security programs
- A resource for the prevention of youth violence and dysregulated behavior
- A promoter of overall school safety including positive school climate, multi-hazard mitigation and response
- A resource to facilitate and assist local schools and public safety stakeholders in preventing, preparing for and responding to threats and acts of violence including self-harm, through a holistic solutions-based approach to improving school safety
The MSSC will serve under and derive its authority from the Maine Department of Education (MeDOE). The MSSC will work collaboratively with all appropriate stakeholders in furtherance of its stated mission. It will operate as a singular entity/office under the MeDOE interfacing primarily with the Commissioner’s Office and the Office of School and Student Supports but also with other offices within the MeDOE as required and needed.
The MSSC’s staff will consist of a Director, Assistant Director and staff responsible for the following lanes of service:
1. Training (Maine Emergency Management Safety and Security Institute-MEMSSI)
2. Mental Health and Threat Assessment
3. Site assessment and school climate assessment
4. Planning and EOP review and exercises
5. School Resource Officers
6. Legislation and policy recommendation and review
7. Administrative assistance – program and Web page management
8. Other to be determined
9. Contracted services