Legal Resources


SCHOOL SAFETY GUIDANCE & OPTIONS

  1. Flexible access to all resources of each school district when spent to improve school safety and security. Resources can be spent on upgrading security in buildings as well as on consultants who can assist with implementing restorative justice programs, crisis intervention, safety and security, etc. The language is very flexible and allows the board to determine and spend resources on improving safety and security;
  2. Expanded rights and obligations of and opportunities for each school district to increased information sharing with local law enforcement and other government entities providing services to and/or supervising students at risk for violence against others;
  3. Available model policies from MTSBA to address bullying, harassment and intimidation, and impose student discipline when necessary to protect student safety;
  4. Staff Level Security Procedures, including the use of school resource officers and designating local law enforcement as the district’s school resource officers and available options for and recommended procedures if a board chooses to grant persons and entities advance permission to possess or store a weapon in a school building in compliance with Section 45-8- 361, MCA; and
  5. School Safety Plans and Crisis Communications.
Promoting and preserving school safety is an ever-evolving goal. There is always more that can be done to bolster steps that have been taken and identify and implement new and innovative ways to provide safe and secure schools. To avoid an incident, school leaders must anticipate threats and take measures to mitigate possible harm to students and staff. If an incident does occur, school employees must be prepared to handle the situation. This article doesn’t have all the answers but is a continuation of the discussion for members as they continue their dedicated efforts to ensure the safety and security of the students in Montana’s public schools.

COORDINATING EFFORTS

It is important to point out that despite the best efforts of our public schools to keep students and staff safe, threats of violence may still occur. Human error, communication gaps, and inconsistencies in responding to threats can have a devastating impact. No matter what one may believe is the right solution to violence in public schools, school and community leaders must coordinate their efforts to promote school safety.

There are many factors that impact a school district’s ability to minimize threats of violence, including but not limited to: 

  • Taking all threats seriously;
  • Reporting threats to and collaborating with law enforcement;
  • Ensuring that the District and other officials are acting on correct information;
  • Preparing our students and staff on what to do in the event of an act of violence at school; and as noted above
  • Creating a culture and expectation for students and staff that if they “see something, say something.”

Each student needs Montana’s public schools to be safe for learning, growing, playing and exploring. School districts meet that need. There are measures school leaders can take to maximize the resources for school security. Additionally, there are legal options for schools to coordinate with law enforcement to ensure students in need of assistance receive the early intervention and care that they need. Finally, there are policies and procedures that, when adopted, implemented and reviewed, can help a school district identify and mitigate potential threats to student safety.