Our nation's schools should be safe havens for teaching and learning, free of crime and violence. Any instance of crime or violence at school not only affects the individuals involved, but also may disrupt the educational process and affect bystanders, the school itself, and the surrounding community (Henry 2000)

As this school year comes to an end, many of us are thankful our students were kept in a safe environment. While the vast majority of us are grateful, some experienced horrific tragedies in a school setting. School related emergencies are becoming more common and more severe.

The CDC describes school violence as such: School violence is youth violence that occurs on school property, on the way to or from school or school-sponsored events, or during a school-sponsored event. A young person can be a victim, a perpetrator, or a witness of school violence.

Youth violence includes various behaviors. Some violent acts—such as bullying, slapping, or hitting—can cause more emotional harm than physical harm. Other forms of violence, such as gang violence and assault (with or without weapons), can lead to serious injury or even death. (CDC Fact Sheet on youth violence 2012).

So how so we ensure our students are kept safe? Comply with school safety related mandates? Keep parents informed instantly and accurately? For years, ESC-20 has been played an active role developing strategies and products to assist schools. Now more than ever school administrators, teachers, students, and parents are becoming more actively involved in the procedures surrounding school safety.

No longer can we afford to have the mindset that we will revisit our emergency plans after a school crisis has occurred. It is not acceptable to be unfamiliar with the emergency procedures for a campus. It is imperative we review plans on a yearly basis, document our drills, and conduct a school safety audit once ever three years. The Texas Education Code §37.108 states: "At least once every three years, each school district or public junior college district shall conduct a safety and security audit of the district's facilities. To the extent possible, a district shall follow safety and security audit procedures developed by the Texas School Safety Center or a comparable public or private entity". While the term "audit" is included in TEC §37.108, the process was developed as an ongoing assessment of a district’s safety and security. Audits should be an ongoing process with the aim of identifying hazards, threats, and vulnerabilities that might pose a danger to life or property and/or may interfere with a safe, secure and healthy environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. Attention to safety and security should not be thought of as an annual or a once-every three year "audit" event. Districts are encouraged to integrate ongoing safety and security assessments into everyday activities. This includes planning, training, and drilling of emergency procedures. Knowing the growing challenges and responsibilities of school administrators, ESC-20 has developed the School Safety Tracker Plus App that is multifaceted and is intended to increase communication with students, parents and staff while complying with state mandates.

It provides a 24/7 mobile application for phones and tablets to be used as a reporting vehicle format for staff, students and parents regarding school safety related incidents, with built-in communication tools that immediately notify school administrators anonymously.

School Safety Tracker Plus has the ability for individuals who have downloaded the app to report safety incidents. School administrators and designated staff can conduct school safety audits, track campus drills, and access their EOP. It is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones and includes a web submission link for those individuals who do not have a smartphone. The app also has a “push notification” system that allows an administrator to send a text message to everyone that has the app installed on their device. This feature will be particularly useful during crisis situations because it will allow an administrator to communicate instant, accurate, and reliable information to parents, students, and staff. The app can also be customized to display school resources and logos. School Safety Tracker plus will be hosted securely at Rackspace.

“When children feel safe, it has an overwhelmingly positive effect on their learning environment,” said Sean Burke, president of the School Safety Advisory Council. This tool is unique in that it gives students peace of mind in knowing their concerns will be kept confidential, while providing the school district with the ability to track each report. It creates a certain level of accountability, while staying on top of state mandates in an efficient manner. This product is available for all Texas schools and has been reviewed by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center.

School Safety Tracker with
School Safety Plus provides Districts with the right tools to ensure school safety in a 360 environment.