School Safety Trends and Legislation in Texas 

 

Webinar: School Safety Trends and Legislation in Texas

 

School districts across the country implement various methods to respond to emergencies on campus, but as technology innovates so should the solutions implemented to protect students and staff.

Truly effective school security solutions must protect against the most extreme crises as well as more common incidents school staff respond to every day. All such incidents demand fast, reliable responses with complete and accurate information.

During this webinar we share insight into:

  • How Texas districts are using new technology to keep schools safe
  • How safety tools empower teachers and staff while improving retention
  • Senate Bill 11 and what it means for your district
  • Anticipating Alyssa’s Law legislation 
  • Safety trends in Texas and nationwide

 

 

Webinar Moderators

Carly Smith, CENTEGIX

Regional Vice President

Heather Connelly, CENTEGIX

Regional Vice President

Webinar Guests

Captain Robert Mastropiero

Argyle Independent School District

JT Patton, Executive Director Safety & Operations

Friendswood Independent School District

Chief Michelle Newman

Chief Michelle Newman, Chief of Safety and Security

Volusia County Schools

Webinar Transcript

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Hi everyone. Welcome, my name is Carly Smith with CENTEGIX and you are on today for the school safety trends and legislation webinar brought to you by CENTEGIX. I’m going to give you some time to log in and get settled. Make sure you can hear us okay. See the screen. If you have any questions, feel free to send them in through the question box, we will be monitoring that throughout. If we don’t get your question during the webinar today, no worries, we’ll be sure to follow up with you with an email. We’re also going to have some polls throughout the webinar today, we want to keep this interactive, so please answer the polls. We’ll share the results of those throughout the presentation today. And with that, I’m going to launch our first poll, just to make sure everything’s working properly. Here we go. Very important poll. If you had seven more days of spring break, what would you do? Unfortunately, you can only pick one. I know some of you might want to pick more than one, sleep, drink more margaritas, go to the beach, send your kids to their grandparents or finish your to-do list. If you can go ahead and answer that poll for me, and then I will be sure to share the results.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
All right. See some very quick answers here. It sounds like some of you may have been planning summer plans already. I’m going to give you a few more seconds then I’m going to close out the poll. I see good participation. I certainly appreciate it. Let’s go ahead and share out the results. It looks like go to the beach and finish your to-do list, are neck and neck. So it looks like we have the actual poll feature figured out here. Again, the question box is on the right-hand side of your panel. Send questions in as we go. And with that, I’m going to kick it over to Heather Connelly for introductions.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Thank you, Carly. And thanks everybody for joining us today. I’m a regional vice president as well at CENTEGIX. I live in the Austin area and I’m honored to introduce our panelists today. First off we’ve got Captain Bob, who is from the Argyle ISD police department. Bob is Captain, as it says on his name and his photo, and some interesting facts about Captain Bob. He moved to the United States as a senior in high school. And prior to that, he lived in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Did I pronounce that right? Okay, so that sounds like a really great place for spring break Captain Bob. His wife is a descendant of Governor William Bradford from the Mayflower.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Very good history there. We’ve also got JT Patton and he is from Friendswood ISD. JT is the Executive Director of safety and operations with Friendswood. Previously, he was a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, bless you, JT. He has definitely worked his way through the system. And we thank you for serving the system for your service in the system. We’re excited to have JT on today. Our final panelist unfortunately had an issue arise at the district. She is in Volusia County schools, Chief Michelle Newman. So she is not able to join us today. And as we all know, if you’re all from districts on the line, we know that things come up that you have to attend to sometimes that throw your schedule off. So, unfortunately, Chief Newman, that’s what happened today. Chief Newman has given us some words of wisdom that we’re going to share later though, in the webinar with you, because we really wanted her input on Alyssa’s Law, which is one of our topics today from the Florida state perspective. So we will hear from her in spirit today later on. And of course, you’ve heard from Carly and me already we’re the moderators for today and we’re excited to get started. So Carly I’ll have you talk a little bit about our agenda.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Thanks, Heather. So we’ve all seen teacher and staff shortages across Texas, and really the nation we’re going to touch on how that could possibly impact school safety as a whole. We’re also going to review some school safety trends that we’re seeing, and also discuss anticipating Alyssa’s law, potentially being passed in the state of Texas. Throughout the webinar, as I stated before, we’re going to have questions and polls. So please be sure to interact with us. We’d love to hear from you so that we’re going to go ahead and get started.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
So first off we want to talk about what we’re all reading in the news and feeling those of us who come from the school systems, Carly and I were both teachers formerly as well. Unfortunately, both in Texas and nationally, we know that teachers and staff are thinking about leaving the system. Even Governor Greg Abbot has created a task force to examine the teacher shortage specific to us in Texas. But what we want to focus on today, of course, is what we think the impact is going to be, or is on school safety overall with teacher and staff shortages. So this is where we’re going to turn to y’all on the panel, Captain Bob and JT. We want to ask you, first of all, if you’re seeing some of this if you are, and how do you believe, if you aren’t yet, how you believe it’s going to impact school safety across your district. So, Captain Bob, I’m going to start with you today.

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
So we’ve like many of the schools we’ve seen kids coming back from being quarantined or kept at home. And a lot of the behavior issues caught us off guard. I think that caught some other school districts off guard, but there’s a significantly higher quantity of behavior issues. For us, it’s primarily our middle school kids. They’re in that transition from, you know, elementary where you kind of do what you’re told and, in high school, where you’re fairly independent and the middle school kids are developing their young adult coping mechanisms and they just were not developed very well at home. And so we’re having a lot of middle school behavior issues.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Thanks, Captain Bob. JT, how about you?

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, I would say it might be a little too early to see what the impact of teacher shortages will do to impact education. I would agree with Captain Bob in terms of students who have been at home and adjusting coming back from COVID with everything that comes with that, the scheduling, the cell phone, all types of different adjustments to a schedule is definitely something that all school districts are facing. And so I think the question for administrators in terms of safety is what is the school district thinking about doing to meet the needs of what’s going on nationally throughout the state to make your school safe? So I’m sure we’ll talk more about that.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Yeah, no. Great, great feedback. Thank you both for that. These are some surveys and studies that were done here in Texas. One of which was from the American Federation of Teachers of Texas recently done – 66% of educators have considered leaving this year. That is a frightening statistic. The Raise Your Hand Texas did a study as well, and they found that 50% of teachers do leave after their first year. That is also frightening. Why do they want to leave? And that’s sort of what we want to try to connect the dots on today. We know pay is always an issue for teachers. Teachers do not get paid enough. Workload, we keep throwing more things at them. Testing is always an issue. We want to focus, of course, on why 8% want to leave due to safety concerns. That’s where we want to ask the panelists another question. We want to kind of look at, what are the types of safety incidences that your teachers and staff are facing right now? What are the things you’re seeing in your own districts? Are they fights? Are they behavior issues? Like you had mentioned Captain Bob in middle school, especially things that we weren’t ready for, mental health, medical, what are the things that you face in your districts right now that are safety incidences that you’re dealing with? Let’s start JT with you on this one.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, I would say that one of the challenges for all students, and you could focus maybe more on secondary if you wanted to is making sure that you’re understanding the whole child and providing support to that through social and emotional learning. And so beyond just the discipline, what does support look like for students who are struggling for a variety of reasons at school? So what’s come out of that is safe and secure teams. I think being able to address the whole child as they’re struggling behavioral beyond just assigning discipline, is a challenge for schools in order to improve behavior for students.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Yeah. So it sounds like you’re seeing more of those behavior incidents overall, JT.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, I would say that’s true, and being able to manage probably isn’t the right word, just but being able to support those students as they’re moving through those situations, I think is, is the challenge for school districts.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Okay, great Captain Bob, how about you?

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
So teaching is a very nurturing profession and it’s my opinion that most teachers get into the job to teach and they want to nurture and help the child grow up. They’re coming into the profession, unprepared for the level of discipline that they’re being asked to manage in a classroom. And the problems, the behavior problems are escalating teachers weren’t prepared for it. Their schooling does not prepare them for it. So it’s up to the school districts to get them up to speed quickly, and we use a variety of tools. But it has caught a lot of the teachers off guard and they’re like, this is not what I envision teaching to be and that’s a struggle. That’s our, when you talk about retention for us, it’s the teachers are leaving because they are unprepared for the level of discipline that they’re being asked to provide and the level of support, they get good support from the administration, but the administration is struggling to catch up with the disciplinary needs.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Ah, okay, great. Thanks, Captain Bob. We’re going to go now to our first poll and we’re going to find out with the attendees what’s going on in your districts as well. So Carly, go ahead with your first poll. There it goes.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Perfect. So what type of incidences do you frequently see in your district, medical fights, runners, or violent incidents. Feel free to chat us in through the question feature. If you don’t see something you’d like to share within this poll response, give you a few more seconds here to respond. Lots of reaction here from our audience. I’m going to go ahead and close the poll in about three more seconds. Okay. And I’m going to share out the results. So fights win by landslide with 80% followed closely by medical. So now we’re going to take a look at our Fall 2021 white paper that looks at CrisisAlert data from districts across the nation and then break down what type of incidences we’ve seen and the impact on our schools.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
So this is very similar to what we just found from our attendees. We actually took data from our CrisisAlert solution from the Fall of 2020 to the Fall of 2021. And the area that I want to focus on because it was definitely what the attendees and everybody on this call has been experiencing as well. And that is the behavior and or physical altercation. So look at the yellow pie pieces in our charts and we found from one fall to the next, we had a 250% increase in student behavior incidences with physical altercations. That’s incredible. We think that’s really compelling data and this is, remember the data just from our system, not from everybody else’s, but it sure sounds like that’s what everybody else is experiencing.

We broke it down a little bit further with that 74% breakdown, we saw that 46% of that 74% is physical altercations. That’s going to be fights that could be kids throwing chairs at you. I had that happen to me when I was a teacher. I had a chair thrown at me once or twice. Behavior 23%, so that’s just dealing with like, you’ve been talking about both JT and Captain Bob, we’re trying to work with social, emotional issues with kids all over the place and COVID did not help matters. And then 5% we call them elopement or our runners that are running off-campus. Again, this is only our data so imagine what data coming from, everybody else’s sources and solutions might show us. Interesting stuff. All right, Carly, we’re going to have another poll. So we’re going to go into the next one. So get ready again, attendees.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
All right. So knowing that there’s been a drastic increase in safety incidences across the board in K12, we like to know what type of solutions are you currently utilizing in your district? So mobile app, a two-way radio, a wall button, a classroom phone, or other, and feel free to put that question box to us and chat it in through that question box, give you a few more seconds here. All right. Going to go ahead and close it out. Great participation in the polls and sharing the results. So a two-way radio is 79% followed by the classroom phone. And then it looks like mobile app and wall button are very, very similar as well. So we talked about behavior incidences quite a lot. But did you know that medical incidences are the second-largest type of safety incidences we’ve seen not only in our data but in other data according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. So what do these percentages mean? They’re very impactful and kind of shocking as we read through the data. 68% of school nurses managed a life-threatening emergency at their district. So shout out to the nurses out there. 10 to 25% of injuries to children occur while in school. As a mother that makes my heart race a little bit and my blood pressure go up. And then according to an Ed Week article, there is a mental health crisis, particularly around children, related to mental health visits to the emergency rooms. They are seeing a 24% increase for children visits ages five to 11 and a 31% increase for children aged 12 to 17. So these numbers are staggering. So, Captain Bob, I’m going to pivot over to you for a moment. How do you handle medical incidences in your districts? And do you have any stories to share on how you handle those emergencies as they arise?

Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
So interesting, you bring up the medical one. We had a couple of kids, three of ’em caught for vaping. So they asked me to go in and counsel them. Right. And so I grab a conference room and in counseling kids, I think I’m doing an awesome job, right? Hey, I’m Captain Bob, I’m doing a great job. Having the strict stern conversation, but getting the students to participate, getting them to talk, because generally a kid, they know what they did wrong. You just got to get them to admit to themselves. Right? I look down at the end of the table and this one kid is going into a seizure because apparently, I’m being a lot stricter than I thought I was being. So how do you get help in a conference room in a school you’re visiting? You’re not really sure where you are. I grab the button and I start mashing away on my staff alert button and I get flooded with help. I mean, for me it was great. The nurse knew where I was, a little map pops up, and knew exactly where to go. For medical incidents, we are no longer using the classroom phone. We are no longer using our wall-mounted buttons. The teachers have the badge on them and all they do is push the button three times and they get help right away. That is the evolution we experience in a short period of time and the teachers like it, they don’t have to look for a button. They don’t have to run to a phone, they just pick up their badge and start pushing it. The nurses love it because they get a visual. They kind of know, oh, if I’m going to that classroom, it’s probably this diabetic student or it’s that epileptic student. Right. They have a vague idea of where they’re headed, of the student just by association and them getting to know their building. They are doing a good job of anticipating what they’re running to.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Yeah, I appreciate that story. I mean, it sounds like you’re very hyper-focused on response time, which we know what a huge difference that can make as well. And you bring up a good point, JT, I know you mentioned earlier, prior to this webinar, about some concerns around special education and students with higher needs. Is there anything you’d like to add as far as medical incidents and how they’re handled in your district as well?

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, similar to what Captain Bob was talking about when you have a severe seizure or a medical situation where it’s coming down to seconds, not so much minutes, it’s being able to have that GPS locator on that button as you’re pushing that in terms of what that means for the nurse, who’s also providing that care. You’re saving time because you’re looking at that poll in my district and we have, we’ve had all of those and currently have four of those in place. That allows the person who has to provide that care, whatever that is. And, you know, in this situation, we’re talking something that could be life-threatening, being able to communicate that you need assistance, who you are, and being able to have a GPS location is huge.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
And also too, it allows for other people who have the app on their phone to then apply a standard response protocol in conjunction with that. So if we’re talking about a seizure, which is what I’m sort of talking about and what Captain Bob did, you can now put your campus on hold through the use of an app on your phone, which we’re talking about, things that are occurring within seconds, as opposed to who’s making the announcement and all the things that happen for those of us that experience those types of situations. The immediacy of it is super helpful.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Thank you for sharing that JT, all great points. So that leads us to the CrisisAlert data focusing on medical incidences. So we know we saw a 250% increase in behavior incidences across the board. But we also saw a 130% increase in medical instances. And I want to point out that this is from Spring 2021 to Fall 2021. So it’s not going to be the full year, and still, it’s a drastic increase. And also I know Heather pointed out earlier on our previous data. This is just CrisisAlert by CENTEGIX data alone. So if you have any other solutions layered in there, then it’s probably even more than this, which I think is a really important call-out. So with that, we’re going to take us back to our discussion at the top of the hour on teachers and staff wanting to leave. And now we’re going to share some data from the American Psychological Association.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
So we thought that this was pretty profound information as well. The American Psychological Association task force looked at physical tax on school staff during COVID and actually increased. We saw 14% of teachers saying there was an increase, 18% of school psychologists or social workers in the schools, 22% of staff – so this is your custodians, your front office workers, you name it – and 15% of administrators said they saw an increase. So when you look back at the statistics, we know 66%, again, according to that American Federation of Teachers survey done in Texas, teachers want to leave, 50% nationally is about the average. And through the study through this physical attacks on school staff, you know, the reason that they’re saying they want to leave the profession is because of that school climate and school security, those issues they’re facing with both climate and security. So I’m going to pass it back to the panelists again, and we want to hear JT and Captain Bob, have you seen an increase in staff requesting help in the last year or so? And if you can give us any of those experiences and JT, I’ll start with you first.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah. I’m not exactly sure if we’ve seen an increase in it but to go to the point that you said before that, where teachers need, because of the overall rise nationally or statewide they’re definitely aware of what’s going on in trends. And I go back to having something on them, on their person to be able to put the campus in lockdown or to communicate assistance for someone to be there is something that our staff has told us has made them feel safer. And it provides other layers of safety that we talked about a little bit, Captain Bob and I did, but providing that device or card for them to do that is something that we are doing in order to make our staff feel safer.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Yeah. JT, I have a quick question too, to add to that from between elementary, middle school, and high school, where are you seeing the most requests for help? I’m just curious by grade level.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
So oddly enough, we’ve seen it more at our middle school level. I don’t know if that’s oddly enough, sometimes your physical altercation situations typically happen more at the secondary level. Our middle school goes down into the lower levels too. We have a traditional junior high, so we’ve seen it more at that level. That’s for a variety of reasons, elopement or an altercation on a smaller level, could be a student with a medical situation. And it could be like what Captain Bob was saying that those middle school students maybe are the ones that have struggled the most coming back from COVID or not. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s just what our data shows.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
All right. Thank you so much for sharing that.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Sure.

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
So we’re seeing the elementary school teachers are very comfortable calling for help. They’re using the button on the CrisisAlert system, the badges, more frequently as they gain confidence and comfort with the fact that they push the button and they get help. The middle school campus, and for us, that’s sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. They are gaining confidence as they see our elementary teachers successfully using the system. Now they have confidence and they’re starting to use it more and more. Our CrisisAlert system is part of our layered security methodology. And we go, we start with designing the environment for safety – like there are no bushes up against the building, that kind of thing. And it works.

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
You know, everybody wears ID badges. We have a camera system with facial recognition. We have the CrisisAlert system, at that point, we have radios, environmental controls, and we can do lockdowns from a single point and secure a building. We have a lot of staff that are equipped to handle a deadly threat in the building. And then we practice our responses and I want to jump to the calling for help and the practice. Everybody talked about, well, this is what I would do for unification, we’re going to follow standard response protocols. Because we’re using the CrisisAlert system, the teachers are practicing their standard response, they’re practicing their traditional response, they’re practicing getting help from the nurse on a regular basis. So while we’re fortunate, we haven’t had a deadly threat on campus, the teachers are gaining confidence that they would know what to do because we’re practicing the small events at the same time. That’s a long way to answer, to get around the fact that our elementary school teachers are very comfortable using the system and they enjoy it because they get help immediately.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
That’s great. Love it. It’s great.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
You mentioned before there was a training of some sort or some sort of alert during cafeteria time that you were going to share.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, we have used the system for the standard response protocol for all of our drills. So we go ahead and use it. And obviously, for the lockdown, we notify our police department because they get instant communication so that they’re aware of what’s going on. But with any safety standard response protocol or system that you have in place, you’re going to have situations that come up. For example, a student pulls a fire alarm and it’s not a fire. And so we had an accidental situation with this that was during a lunch period, for a lockdown which upon reflection was a good experience because as anyone listening to this knows practicing lockdown year during lunch is always a challenge. And so, or it’s something that’s avoided. So, having that occur and going through and reflecting on what transpired, looking at your plans and what happened, it didn’t happen, was really good. And so just to speak a little bit about the system, it has strobes activate that are color-coded to the standard response protocol. It has a PA takeover. It has communication that comes across computer screens. It has app notifications for first responders, and first responders are people like assistant principals, nurses, SROs, et cetera. So all of that was activated, but it wasn’t something that was on the calendar for that day. So having that happen and reacting to that, was a great learning experience for us.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
That’s great. A beautiful mistake, right? But yet it trained and it really helped all of your staff and students respond to it. Because I know how students get a little bit apathetic when it’s time for drills. Right? We know what we’re supposed to do, but they don’t. I bet that that was a really good learning experience for all involved. Thanks for sharing that JT.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
I was going to say those strobes come in handy because in the cafeteria during lunchtime, I can’t even hear the person next to me talking because it’s so loud and those cafeterias. So that was a happy accident it sounds like, some good learning came out of it. So thanks again for sharing.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Yeah. Great, great story. So in alignment with what you’ve all been saying we saw again with our CrisisAlert data, also an increase in staff requesting help from Fall to Fall. And so they’re needing our help more and more in schools. We need to do that. We need to provide whatever safety mechanisms we can to our staff and teachers. Again, doesn’t include the data from all solutions, just from ours. Okay. Attendees. I hope you’re still awake out there. We want to do another poll. So here it is.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
All right. We talked about what type of safety incidences you’re experiencing in your district. We talked about what type of safety solutions you use in your district. Now we want to know the why behind what safety solutions you use in your district. So why did you select this? We know we’re seeing an increase in safety incidences across the board in K12. Was it the ease of use? Was it the cost? Was it stakeholder input legislation or other, feel free to send that in via the question box we’d love to hear from you. And it may be a combination of these things. You can pick more than one on this one, because we know a lot of times there is a layered response. Great participation going to give you guys a few more seconds. I’m going to close it out. All right. Thank you so much for your participation. So it looks like the cost is a huge factor in which solution you choose followed closely by legislation and ease of use, their neck, and neck 17%. Love that we’re including stakeholders in those decisions. We’re going to highlight a little bit of chief Newman’s feedback on including stakeholders a little later on today. And then we have some others that chatted in as well.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Anybody did, were there any chat-ins in the question on the other, and what that meant?

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
No, it looks like had issues selecting more than one. Okay. Apologies for that. But it looks like some people also use radios as long along with the selections that they picked.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Okay, great. That’s great. Good poll. Good to know.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
So I’m going to go ahead and kick it over to Bob, why did you choose the safety solutions that you chose in your district? What was the why behind what you chose in your district? As far as safety goes.

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
We’ve had a couple of unfortunate serious events that put together trying to tackle the serious events we’ve had. They’ve been some, some critical events and it became apparent to us that our existing process of the wall buttons, the telephones, initiating communication to staff, that there’s a serious problem. That was our problem. It was communications. And if anybody’s ever done an emergency drill, you quickly realize that communications are going to be your problem. So, Chief Carney came across CrisisAlert. It looked like an effective way to communicate very rapidly that there was a problem and where it was. Once everybody’s in tune with, “Hey, I better go get my radio or I better listen to the PA”, then you can continue on with your emergency response. And it was that initial communication and CrisisAlert fit the bill in many respects better than we anticipated, but you know, we’ve had to evacuate the school, we’ve had to respond to kids doing something horrible. We’ve had some other really serious events where communications was the problem. And that’s why we went to CrisisAlert. The cost wasn’t our issue – it was the ease of use and timeliness that caused us to go in that direction.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Yeah, ease of use is huge as a teacher and or as a former teacher, they say once a teacher, always a teacher I would have my background’s in special education and you’re juggling so many different things, but to be able to discretely and quickly ask for help when you need it can make a huge impact. JT, how about you? What was the, why behind your safety solution selection?

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
So for our district and mainly our school safety advisory committee, we were looking at how can we provide like chief Bob said, you know, immediate communication to staff immediate notification to everyone, and being able to do it at any place within the building where you don’t have to get on a phone. And so when you look at those things, this system allows you to do that. So anyone, you know, what you will say in education is anyone can call a lockdown at any time, but what does that really mean? And how long does that take and what does that look like? And so the ease of use, being able to activate that anywhere on campus and have a PA take over a color-coded strobe which turns red in this situation with a lockdown taking over machines, it takes care of so many things, immediate notifications to the police department, you know, GPS load for description of where someone is, those things that it allows, puts you there within seconds. And so, like Captain Bob was saying in terms of, you know, having to get on your radio and do other different things, you know, we, we have different people that do different things during a lockdown, everyone locks down, but we may have someone looking at cameras where they’re locked down, et cetera, but that immediate blanket to everyone of what’s going on instantly is really something we were looking to do.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Thank you for sharing that and very similar threads. It sounds like communication and just kind of automation of that response seems to be very high up on your list on why you made this selection that you did. So I really appreciate you sharing that. And that leads us to the last topic of today’s webinar, which is legislation.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about Alyssa’s Law. Not everybody understands what this is about just yet in Texas, but we are anticipating the potential passing of it. Let me just give you a little background on it first of all. So in Florida, at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland Alyssa was one of the students that unfortunately lost her life in the shooting. Her mom, Lori, decided to do something about it. And so she has been an incredible activist for school safety across the nation, not just in Florida, for all of us. Lori serves on her school board now and she has also done some tremendous work by getting Alyssa’s Law passed both in Florida and New Jersey so far. You can see on the map in the gray, those are the states that are in progress. So we are one of them. Texas is a very forward-thinking state with school safety, as we all know from Senate bill 11, and we have a lot of legislative mandates, but I personally, as a mom, former teacher, I really appreciate those because I know it’s keeping our kids and our schools safer. We have a lot of work we have to do because of Senate Bill 11, but it’s also helping our kids stay safe. And our goal is to keep teachers and staff in the schools as we’ve been talking about all day. So getting back to the story in Florida they passed this the year before last and they’ve been implementing it across the districts in Florida. Essentially what the bill is, is that there needs to be a panic alert device in all classrooms and silent panic alerts because when the Parkland shooting or any shooting happens, we don’t want there to be a lot of noise or people needing to talk on the phone to get to 911.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
That’s a really big issue when we have these shootings. So not only is it a panic alert device in the classroom for the teacher or the staff to be able to alert everybody to but it also has to do with response time. And so both JT and, and Captain Bob talked about that, it’s the response time it’s, it could be a matter of seconds versus minutes, that we need to get these people help and these kids help. And so we know that the medical problems that we had with these shootings is we can’t get to these kids it’s fast enough to save their lives. So that was a really large part of the bill and the legislation and why Alyssa’s mom, Lori, obviously wanted to have this passed. In 2021 state representative Shawn Thierry, I hope you pronounced her name right, from Houston, did introduce house bill 204 during our session. Unfortunately, it did not pass. I think we had a little bit of a crazy session here in Texas, but the hope is, is that the next session in 2023. I think there are a lot of parents, including myself and others that would like to see something like this in all of our kids’ classrooms. I’d sure like if there is a violent event in my son’s classroom to know that they’re going to have help quickly, they’re going to be able to find those kids and teachers that need that help, as well. So where we hope Chief Newman could help provide us some insight on this is because she’s gone through this process. Her school district Volusia County has actually, this impacted them.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
I had the opportunity to work with a lot of Florida districts last year, listen to a lot of them talk about the impact that this law had positive and negative, you know, it’s, it’s always something big when a mandate is handed to us. It’s a lot of work on our end in our schools. But a lot of really positive things came out of those conversations that I was able to hear and witness through those school districts. So we did gather some notes from chief Newman. So Carly’s going to tell us a little bit about them. One of the questions we wanted to ask her was how this actually, this law did impact her district in particular, and how they dealt with it basically. So Carly, what did, what did Chief Newman provide us as far as her summary of that?

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Right. So to summarize, she said, while Alyssa’s Law made having a panic system a requirement for all school districts, Volusia County was “ahead of the game”. We already had a system in place and they were in the process of transitioning to CrisisAlert prior to Alyssa’s Law. She went on to say that, “we believed in providing our faculty and staff with the tools needed to report suspicious activity, medical situations, campus disruptions, and active threats in real-time”. And I think it’s important to point out that 98% of the data that we showed you today from our CrisisAlert white paper was all on everyday emergencies. So behavior, kids running off-campus and medical issues that takes up 98% of that data. Whereas that small 2% is more of the lockdown situations. So, Heather, I don’t know if you want to kind of kick it over to JT and Bob, about the impact of this.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Yeah, I would love to hear it because it sounds similar. Y’all are both ahead of the game a little bit here. If we do get Alyssa’s Law, if it does pass this next session for us it sounds like you’re in a similar situation that chief Newman was with Volusia County. So, back to you both, if JT, if you want to start, how do you think this law would impact our districts in Texas and yours in particular?

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, I think it’s going to impact school districts greatly. They’re going to have to be able to go through and read exactly what’s necessary and then set forward the immediate communication and exactly what is the panic alert device needs to look like. So for us as a school district, we’re excited to already be on that process already having the system in place, providing teachers and it’s not just teachers all staff. So it’s maintenance staff, it’s paraprofessionals that have these, that move throughout the district. But depending on what comes out of it, it could impact greatly school districts in terms of what they need to have in place in order to communicate a safety situation at the classroom level.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Yeah. Captain Bob, how about you?

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
We’re fortunate, like JT’s district is, I think we’re a little bit ahead of the curve because we’ve had some events, and we’ve already taken steps to become a more safe environment. I’ll just throw it out there, that way. We have standard response protocols. We have our shack committees and the parents are asking us to move forward with this, as well. So that when they did see, you know, the cost because it’s a product and the cost of money, the parents went to school board said, yes, you need to do this. So we did it, I think we’re ahead of the curve. The teachers talked to their peers in other districts and our teachers, and we talked earlier about retention and yeah, we still have that problem, but our teachers are telling their peers in other districts, “Yeah, we’ve already done this and it’s awesome. It works”. Other administrators know that when that law passes, they’re going to be in a mad scramble to comply. It’s one less thing our administrators have to worry about and our school board, because we’ve already achieved compliance with the anticipated law here in Texas.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
That’s awesome. Thank you both for that. You know, the other thing we wanted to really dig in with chief Newman on and y’all could probably provide the same thing, but we wanted her to provide us with advice that she would give to the attendees and here in Texas on what they should anticipate or what they should do to prepare for the potential passing. You both know this already, which is great. So here’s some of the feedback Carly’s going to share the feedback that the chief provided for us. And we’d love to hear from y’all too, if you, if the, you agree with it and if it resonates for you. So Carly, what did chief Newman say?

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
She mentioned to solicit input from faculty and staff. She said employees were very apprehensive about putting an app on their phones and being tracked on and off-campus, which I totally understand that. And only had a 20% adoption rate of the phone app that they had prior to their transition to the CrisisAlert solution. After they transitioned to the CrisisAlert solution, they had a 100% adoption rate, which is huge, because they have like over 8,000 employees. That’s probably why she isn’t here today because she has over 8,000 employees. So that’s a whole lot of students. Once they were ensured that the CrisisAlert solution only works on campus and it doesn’t track your movement unless you activate it on campus, they felt relieved and they felt comfortable, and confident in using the solution. And that’s why you go from a 20% adoption rate to a 100% adoption rate. That’s a huge difference. She said she really feels strongly about giving them the capability to call for immediate assistance and the quote was “they loved it”. And I think this is the last one’s interesting because it speaks to what you mentioned too earlier, JT about the cafeteria mishap – don’t discipline employees that accidentally activate the alert. Use it as a teachable moment. By approaching it this way you’ll gain the trust of your employees, which I think is huge. Anything that you’d like to add as far as her points, JT that you think that kind of resonated with you?

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah. I think one of the things, like I said before, we looked at our school advisory committee what drove out of that was a need for something like this, and then we came upon this and went with this. I think that’s true that your staff has to have buy-in. I get the, they do like the piece of it’s just a card when I’m out, that’s connected to the school. So when I’m gone, it’s not an app. So, we heard similar things. One of the things that’s good for the administrators that are out there listening is so they know, because they’ve purchased products on a large scale that go in all schools, whether it’s a keyless entry through card readers or whatever it may be, is having this product installed by Five Stone Safety after hours and being able to communicate with Craig Hawksworth on a regular basis with issues that come up, speedy response is huge. Any large install, across your district, as I said a second ago, the way it’s installed and the way they respond to your needs as things come up. Cause again, anything that’s installed at a macro level, there’s always things that come up always it’s, it’s always going to happen. And people that are in that do what Captain Bob does and what I do know that. And so, I just talked to Craig this morning, so being able to talk to him and we installed it mostly in, in August, this is our first year with it. So having that relationship is huge. But you know, teachers trust is big, functionality is big and it works. And so being able to, as a teacher, they just want to know, is it going to work? You know, that’s their thing. And as people respond to them and situations are able to be handled that builds trust. And it also helps we talked about the elementary school’s little bit or upper elementary, what I would say using it more frequently, just like with Argyle with Captain Bob, it allows people to become more familiar with the situation that’s requiring that alert. If it’s a regular thing, we talked about a seizure or whatever it may be. I kind of jumped around a little bit, but those are the things that are kind of on my mind.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
You bring up a good point, you know, ease of implementation of any safety solution that you’re putting in it matters, and training matters to make sure your staff feel comfortable using it. Those are all great points. How about you Captain Bob, which one of those points that Chief Newman made resonated most with you?

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
Ease of use is the primary one across the board. When I talk to teachers, as JT mentioned Captain Newman mentioned, it’s the ease of use. And I’m going to use that to go into the, you need to practice it. Nobody reads a book and goes out and wins a state championship in basketball. Nobody reads a book and then wins their state championship as a football. They have practice, they have practice all week long. They review game tapes. They look at what worked and what didn’t work. I would encourage you, all participants, to practice, start to finish, have a teacher come to the front office and detonate the button, have the teacher push the button, and have them watch what happens in your command center…if that’s the front office, if it’s at another location, but take the process to its completion, initial response, there’s calming the chaos, getting control, and then restoring normal educational process. Right? Practice is key. I would say that the unfortunate event JT had a false alarm, we’ve had one as well. And they are to be cherished because it demonstrates to the administration the principles, I really need someone in the front office, conveying information, being on the radio, letting the incoming police officers, who think they’re responding to a real shooting, getting them organized, right? The complete response. There was a fire in New York City at one of the public schools. The teachers could smell it. The students could smell it. And the teacher’s response to students was that if it’s a real fire, the principal will pull the fire alarm. They were that conditioned to the principal is the one that pulls the alarm. You want the badges…are awesome. I keep, I think I’m holding it flat – so people can’t really see it. There’s a simple button on the back. You push the button and you’ve called for help. The teachers need to become comfortable doing that. So bring a teacher at random down, have them start all your drills, and rotate the teachers. They’re like, the feedback I’ve gotten is wow, that was easy. It didn’t hurt. They were expecting, I don’t know, it get shocked or something. But they’re comfortable doing it. And it invokes the entire practice, start to finish. For tornado drills, we start with our superintendent. She is looking at weather maps with our input. She initiates the tornado, I call ’em lockdowns, their tornado response. And it comes down from the top to the schools. Practice is key. That would be my encouragement and advice.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Awesome. Thank you both so much. And thanks to Chief Newman, who’s in spirit. JT, did you want to say something you’re leaning in?

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
Yeah, I did. I wanted to add one other thing because I’m thinking of the administrators who may be listening anytime you, you install something that this large and it’s about safety and, and both I and Captain Bob talk about lockdowns probably more than anything else. It’s aligned with all the standard response protocols, the severe weather or whatever, is having Craig Hawksworth there with me to present it to let’s just call it 200 faculty members. Okay. And having that knowledge along that implementation piece was very helpful in terms of rollout because that’s the other thing we’re talking about with, you know, buy-in or teachers feeling comfortable. Having a person there with you, that’s aware of what a standard response protocol is. That’s aware of what goes on in schools and is familiar with what’s going on is the way to start off on the right foot.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
If you will, they’re going to trust the administrators in the district for sure. Your teachers will do that. And people listening know that, but having that sort of rollout to however many thousands of employees, there are hundreds, if it’s smaller is really key. And I just want to concur with Captain Bob about the importance, practicing with it. And incorporating, in our case, the city of Friendswood or the police department with the drills that we’re doing has been super helpful because it needs to come down to a student level. If a student understands what it means, that’s the best place to be in and people listening who work in schools know that if it’s just parents or teachers talking about it, that’s one thing. But if a student knows what it means and what to do it just helps drive home, what do I do during a lockdown? What are the things that are important to do? So I just wanted to say a couple of things about that.

Heather Connelly – CENTEGIX:
Thanks, JT, thanks. All right. Well, we are coming to the end of our time together. Great advice from all of our panelists, even chief Newman in spirit. Carly is going to take us to the end now and we’re going to ask one more question.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
All right. So this question is for our panelists, but also for the audience. So please send it into the question box, we’d love to hear from you. Captain Bob, we’re going to go ahead and start with you. We just want to know, do you have any sort of ideas that districts should consider when trying to make their teachers feel safer in their classrooms? Any insight on that is kind of parting thoughts and we have about five minutes left between the two of you. So anything you’d like to share on that

Captain Bob Mastropiero – Argyle ISD:
Put ’em in a room, ask ’em questions and then encourage them to send emails. Cause there some teachers don’t want to talk, talk about safety in public. If your teachers are asking you questions about safety, it’s in their heart and it’s a concern to them, and respond to every single one of their concerns, even if it’s just, and literally, I’ve done this, we never thought about that. And you get that big wide-eyed, “Oh my goodness. We didn’t think about it”. Come up with a solution or a response protocol and convey it back to the teacher. Like, get their input. You want their input. They’re not feeling safe. You want them to feel safe. And so you do that through some real sound listening skills.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
I like that. If you don’t ask, then you don’t know. So just giving them the opportunity to speak up. And you make a good point, not everybody’s going to speak up in that big district-wide meeting. Like they need other avenues. Maybe they want to call or text or shoot you an email. I love that you kind of opened it up in that way. JT, we have about one more minute before we’re going to launch two last little polls here. Any ideas you’d like to share or parting thoughts. As far as ideas on how districts could make their teachers feel safer.

JT Patton – Friendswood ISD:
I concur with everything Captain Bob said. The only thing that is something to think of about for administrators, SROs, central administrators, campus administrators, is there’s probably only a few that have now become administrators now coming out of teaching during COVID. And so we’re not in the classroom. And so what’s different about that. It might not be extreme safety but you know, listening to teachers and hearing what their thoughts are of what’s going on now, when they say it’s different, well, what’s different? What’s changed? What do you need more from us when it comes to safety? And then I concur with everything he said

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
Thank you, JT so much for sharing that. Well, I really want to thank both JT and Captain Bob for joining us today. True thought leaders in the great state of Texas. We’re very appreciative of you being part of the CENTEGIX panel. And with that, I’m going to leave you with two final polls. I know I’m just putting you guys to work out there in audience land. The first one is, would you like to see a copy of our fall safety trends report? Yes, no, maybe. Or how about just the cliff notes? Because we understand how busy you are. That way you can dig into it at your leisure. And we of course can answer any questions you may have on that, give you a few more seconds to answer, and then we’re going to have one more poll. I’m going to close that out.

Carly Smith – CENTEGIX:
And then the last poll is, would you like to learn more about CrisisAlert by CENTEGIX? Yes, no, maybe, or what is CrisisAlert? Cause it has come up quite a bit in today’s panel. So feel free to select whatever makes the most sense and we’ll be happy to reach out to you and provide you with additional information. So again, thank you guys so much for your time today. We sincerely appreciate you. Heather’s going to end here by putting our contact information here up on the screen. You of course can reach out to us, directly if you’d like, I can’t believe we’re on time. This is amazing. Four minutes like this is unheard of in webinar land. Again, we greatly appreciate you Captain Bob and JT. Thank you guys so much for joining. Heather, thank you so much for being co-host with me today. We certainly you guys and we wish you all a wonderful week. Thanks again.

 

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