Safe Schools

Virginia Beach City Public Schools is committed to providing a safe environment for students, staff and visitors. We work closely with national, state, and local safety officials – police, fire, emergency medical services, and public health – in order to ensure our schools are well prepared for an emergency. Together, we have developed a comprehensive Emergency Response Plan covering a wide variety of emergencies that serves as a guide to help staff and our public safety partners respond swiftly should a crisis occur in our schools.

The information included on this page provides an overview of the many safety measures Virginia Beach City Public Schools has implemented. Please report any safety concerns you may have to your school principal.

What security measures are provided in our schools both during the day and after hours?
We strive to be proactive rather than reactive where safety and security are concerned. The following safety measures are in place for the safety of every student.

  • Each school has a Crisis Response Team with selected members that have participated in training to ensure appropriate response on a variety of potential school emergencies.
  • All exterior school doors are either locked or under surveillance.
  • Interior and exterior Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is installed in all schools.
  • As a condition of entry, visitors must sign-in and wear a visitors I.D. badge.
  • All principals and key administrators have cell phones with text messaging capability.
  • Each school has a minimum supply of 15 two-way radios to assist in emergency communications.
  • Intrusion alarms are installed in every school.
  • After-hours security staff monitor all schools.
  • The school division’s parent notification system AlertNow will be used to call and email parents during an emergency situation in order to provide the most current information about the emergency situation.
  • Each school has an Emergency Response Plan that serves as a guide for a variety of school emergencies.
  • Students are constantly reminded to share any information with their School Resource Officers (SRO) or school staff that could be potentially harmful to a school.
  • Code of Student Conduct and supporting School Board policies and regulations.

How can parents be assured that our schools remain safe?
One of the top priorities in the school division is to create a learning environment free from disruption. Testimony to this, are the security measures we have. This is also echoed in the Code of Student Conduct and supporting School Board policies and regulations.

The Office of Safety and Loss Control is continually reviewing and updating security measures to include new technologies and procedures in order to provide the safest environment possible for our students and staff. We consult with national, state and local safety officials to gain knowledge of best practices on the subject of school safety and learn lessons from other school divisions.

Most importantly, parents should know that safe school audits are conducted on a routine basis in every school. The audit process provides a comprehensive overview of Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ overall security and emergency preparedness. The information gathered from the audit is used to improve security and emergency preparedness throughout the school division.

Unfortunately, we live in a day and time when guarantees are no longer feasible. What we can guarantee is this: An absolute commitment to staying continually vigilant and aware and to working with law enforcement on an ongoing basis because, as has already been proved, effective communication is the key to proactive success.

What is the role of a School Resource Officer (SRO)?
School Resource Officers (SRO) are uniformed Virginia Beach police officers assigned to schools to help create a safe and positive learning environment by building and maintaining successful working relationships between police, school administrators, students, parents, and staff. All middle and high schools have a SRO on-site; however, they are also available to respond to the feeder elementary schools when needed.

What is the procedure if a student or community member reports a suspected threat or reports seeing a weapon on school property?
All threats are taken seriously by school administration. Police are notified, and officers and school personnel work together to thoroughly investigate any threat, whether it is made verbally, in writing, via email, text message, online or social media. Most importantly, if a student, parent or community member has knowledge of a threat, we encourage them to immediately report it to police or school officials instead of spreading rumors. The sooner we know about a potential threat – the sooner the investigation can begin.

Is school safety training ongoing for staff?
Yes, new security assistants are required to receive state mandated certification training and Mandt System crisis de-escalation training. Security assistants must complete Mandt System recertification training, and Basic First Aid, CPR and AED training every 2 years.

Each summer OSSRM coordinates training for administrators choosing topics based on challenges faced during the previous school year.

Prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year, threat assessment training was conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools and U.S. Secret Service. Administrators, guidance counselors, school psychologists, school social workers and SROs attended the training. This training focused on the prevention of school violence and provided:

  • Strategies for educators, law enforcement officials, and others to identify, intervene, and prevent targeted acts of school violence.
  • Information on the threat assessment process and how to identify students who are potentially dangerous and may pose a risk of targeted violence.

What kind of safe schools/emergency training have you provided school staff?
The Office of Safety and Loss Control offers training on an annual basis for principals, assistant principals, school security assistants, guidance counselors, social workers and psychological staff.

Do teachers know what signs to watch for with regards to suicide or potential violence?
Each school has a Crisis Intervention Team Manual, which provides several lists of warning signs for suicide or potential violence that students might display. Staff is encouraged to talk to these students, notify their parents about their concerns and refer them to the school counselor, to psychological services, or to outside mental health providers if necessary. Schools are encouraged to review these procedures and warning signs on a regular basis. Staff training is available on request to the Offices of Safe Schools and Psychological Services.

What disciplinary action does the school take if a student makes a threat – credible or otherwise?
First and foremost, anyone who makes a threat against a school could face criminal charges. A threat could be made verbally, in writing, via email, text message, online or social media. As appropriate to the situation he/she will be recommended for expulsion or other disciplinary action such as an alternative placement as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct.

How does the school division communicate with parents should there be a credible threat against a student or school?
Should there be a threat to cause harm against a student or school, the first call to action will be to investigate this threat in partnership with the local police. Depending on the specifics of the threat, an individual parent could be contacted. The school division also has access to a rapid notification system AlertNow. This communication system allows the principal or school administration to quickly send information out via phone and/or email. Letters are often sent home to parents and announcements can be posted on individual school websites or the division website

With a large number of students using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other online source, does anyone from the school division monitor these outlets for threats that could potentially cause harm to a school, students or staff?
The school division is not in the position to monitor social media accounts for the more than 67,000 students in our schools. When we are made aware of a potential threat, school administration works in tandem with police to review the source and nature of the threat.

Often cases of student violence can be linked to reports of bullying against a fellow student. How is the school division approaching anti-bullying in its schools?
First of all, bullying is classified as prohibited conduct in any school or school activity. Students identified as being the source of bullying and or making threats against a student could be recommended for expulsion in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct. To discourage this type of behavior, the school division has implemented the following:

  • A bullying prevention program is coordinated through the Office of Student Support Services.
  • All schools in the division are required to have a character education program. In support of this, the subject of bullying is discussed with all students at the beginning of each school year, during a review of the Code of Student Conduct.
  • As a point of interest, a division-wide character education program was originally implemented 13 years ago. Many of the schools still use this program and/or expanded on it philosophy of character education which discourages bullying.
  • Many schools have implemented a positive behavioral support system as a school-wide initiative that emphasizes respect for others.
  • Teachers are trained to reinforce character and leadership skills to decrease discipline referrals associated with bullying.
  • Some schools have additional research-based strategies and programs in place to diminish bullying behaviors such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which is designed to improve peer relations and make schools safer, more positive places for students to learn and develop.
  • Another program, The Leader In Me, is designed to be integrated into a school’s core curriculum and everyday language so that it isn’t “one more thing” teachers and administrators have to do. It becomes part of the culture, gaining momentum and producing improved results year after year.

What is the referral/examination process if a staff member has concerns about the emotional state or behavior of a student?
The process is to have the staff member make a verbal or written referral to a school administrator. The school administrator will then investigate the referral to determine the appropriate course of action. If deemed necessary, a threat assessment is conducted by a school psychologist.

What services does the school division offer for students who may have/or be suspected of having emotional problems or who may pose a danger/threat to others?
The school division does offer direct mental health services for students who may have emotional problems or who may pose a danger/threat to others when these issues affect the students’ educational performance or relationships with others in school through our psychological services staff. The staff consists of licensed clinical and school psychologists who provide individual and group counseling to students and consultation to school staff and parents. They work with parents to discuss strategies that can be implemented during school hours or options to seek outside assistance when those issues have no educational impact or are beyond the limitations of school personnel.

As a parent or student how can we help keep our schools safe?
School safety is everyone’s responsibility – staff, students, parents, and the entire community. Please report any safety concerns you may have to your school principal. Students and parents can be crime stoppers. If you have information about criminal activity in school, on school grounds, or in our community call: 1-888-562-5887.

Students and parents can be crime stoppers. If you have information about criminal activity in school, on school grounds, or in our community call: 1-888-562-5887.