March 08, 2021 School Safety Plan Reminder
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to remind you of your legal obligations regarding the development and adoption of school safety plans.
In addition to the procedures that were in effect before the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts and BOCES are now required to modify existing district-wide safety plans by April 1, 2021 to include protocols that are “substantially consistent” with the new requirement that other public employers adopt a plan for operations in the event of a state disaster emergency involving a communicable disease. A discussion of these protocols, as well as the procedure to draft and publish the communicable disease portion of your safety plan, can be found in our February 23, 2021, February 3, 2021 and September 14, 2020 memoranda.
The procedures regarding the development and adoption of safety plans that were in effect before the pandemic remain in effect and are summarized below.
• At least once a year, the district-wide school safety team must review the district-wide safety plan and update the plan as needed. Similarly, at least once a year, the building-level emergency response team must review the building-level emergency response plans and update those plans as needed.
• Any school district that employs, contracts with or otherwise retains public or private security personnel must establish a written contract or memorandum of understanding (MOU) with therm. We recommend that a MOU and not a contract be used for this purpose. The MOU must be consistent with the district’s code of conduct, define the relationship among the district, school personnel, students, visitors, law enforcement and security personnel; define law enforcement and security personnel’s roles, responsibilities and involvement within a school; and delegate school discipline to school administration. The MOU must be developed with stakeholder input (including, but not limited to, parents, students, school administrators, teachers, collective bargaining units, parent and student organizations and community members, as well as probation officers, prosecutors, defense counsel and courts that are familiar with school discipline). The MOU must be incorporated into and be published as part of the district-wide safety plan.
• The board of education must adopt the district-wide safety plan and the building-level emergency response plans by September 1 each school year.
• The board must make the district-wide safety plan available for public comment at least 30 days prior to its adoption and hold at least one public hearing prior to adopting the plan.
• Within 30 days after the board has adopted the district-wide safety plan, but by no later than October 1, the district/BOCES must post the plan on its website and file a copy of the plan with the Commissioner of Education by submitting the URL for that website address to the Education Department.
• The board must also ensure that a copy of each building-level emergency response plan is filed with the appropriate local law enforcement agency and with the State police within 30 days after its adoption, but by no later than October 1.
• Building-level emergency response plans must be kept confidential and may not be disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Law request.
• The required components of the district-wide and building-level plans are set forth in State law and regulations.
If you have any questions regarding what must (or should) be included in your plans or the procedure for updating or adopting your school safety plans, please contact Lauren Schnitzer, Lindsay T. Crocker or one of our other education law attorneys by calling (631) 694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
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© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2021