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Rule 10 - Regulations and Procedures for the Accreditation of Schools
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Safety Requirements

Nebraska Department of Education
December 2000

Below are questions and responses regarding school safety considerations in Rule 10 - Section 011. The responses explain the intent of the State Board of Education regarding the school safety provisions.

As a reminder, in all areas of legal considerations or concerns, school administrators should always consult their school attorneys.

It is hoped that this document will help to clarify some of the areas that may be of interest to school administrators, and those with responsibilities with developing school safety committees, plans, or conducting annual reviews.

RE: LOCAL SAFETY PLAN – 011.01B

RE: LOCAL SAFETY COMMITTEE - 011.01C

RE: ANNUAL REVIEW - 011.01D

RE: MISCELLANEOUS ISSUES


RE: LOCAL SAFETY PLAN – 011.01B

QUESTION: Will the State Department of Education provide a "boilerplate" plan?

The booklet, "Considerations for Nebraska Schools Reviewing School Safety," is provided as a resource for safety committees. The booklet should be adapted to meet local situations and circumstances, which a generic "boilerplate" plan would fail to address.

The local Safety Committee provides the mechanism for conducting research that assists in the development of the safety plans and procedures unique to a particular school. The research and development, and ultimately the safety plan, take into account local needs, available school and community resources, and the capabilities for prevention, response, and recovery from unsafe conditions and situations.

QUESTION: How does the "Nebraska Public Records Law" affect school safety plans? Are they open to the public? - AND - If the school board has to approve the plan, does it become a part of the public record and open to review?

Generally speaking, the School Safety Plan is a public record. However, Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712.05(8) R.R.S. provides that the following type records, even though "public record," may be withheld from the public. "Information solely pertaining to protection of the physical security of public property…" Even after the local board approves the safety plan, the district may decide that parts of the plan should be considered confidential.

If school districts choose to publish plans, but feel it is in their best interests to keep specific information confidential, they may wish to use generic terms such as: " …by an appropriate code." -- "…to a designated site." -- "…by the assigned individual." In those cases, the local school district and board of education are within their right to maintain the confidentiality of appropriate parts of their safety plans.

Additionally, Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712.05(8) R.R.S. allows for closed (executive) sessions of public bodies for matters "necessary for the protection of the public" and for "discussion regarding deployment of security personnel or devices."

(Consult your legal counsel regarding confidentiality of schools plans) 

QUESTION: Does every "conceivable" danger have to be addressed in the plan?

School Safety plans address those hazards that reasonably could be expected to impact the specific school facility and its occupants. Needs assessments developed by the Safety Committee prioritize hazards, and address the allocation of resources for prevention, response, and recovery from unsafe conditions or incidents.

QUESTION: Can one "Safety Plan" cover a whole school system/district, or does each building need a safety plan?

The intent is for each building to have its own plan. However, a system/district may have one master plan, with sub-sections addressing the specific safety and security of individual school facilities. There will be safety prevention, response, and recovery concerns unique to each facility.

RE: LOCAL SAFETY COMMITTEE - 011.01C

QUESTION: What liabilities do school safety committee members have if something they recommend or fail to recommend results in an injury?

Local safety committees are advisory to the administration and board of the local district. It is not expected that members of the local safety committee have specific expertise in school safety or violence prevention issues. The plan is approved by the local governing body, which reviews the recommendations of the Safety Committee. Therefore, the liability rests with the governing board.

(Refer to your local school attorney for specific concerns and advice, as situations vary.)

QUESTION: Can a district have a district wide committee, or is each building required to have a safety committee?

The committee can be a system/district committee, but the intent is that the safety needs of each facility to be addressed. Thus committee representation would need to be balanced enough to capture the concerns and needs of each facility within the system/district.

NOTE: The term "School System" is used as it is defined in Title 92 Chapter 10 - also known as Rule 10 - 002.14, (pg. 3)
"…a public school district or a nonpublic school or group of nonpublic schools under a governing body organized to provide education in elementary, middle, secondary, and/or high school grades as provided in this chapter." 

RE: ANNUAL REVIEW - 011.01D

QUESTION: What liability does the person(s) conducting the annual review have if something they recommend or fail to recommend results in injury?

Individuals assisting in conducting the annual review of local school districts are expected to use "best judgment." However, whatever recommendations are made by the outside individual, are for the consideration of the local board. It is the local board that retains the liability for the content of the local safety plan.

Individual liability for persons assisting with annual safety reviews relates only to claims of technical expertise in a specific area. If the individual claims no areas of "expertise", liability remains with the local board.

If recommendations are made regarding a safety concern requiring specialized or technical knowledge, liability still rests with the school and local board as to what action will be taken.
(Refer to your local school attorney for specific concerns and advice, as situations vary.)

QUESTION: What liability does the school district have if they do not implement recommendations made by the annual review person(s)?

Recommendations carry only the weight given to them by the local governing body. It is up to the school district to determine how best to address the recommendations, up to and including disregarding certain suggestions if they deem it appropriate. These decisions should be documented to show the process used in reaching conclusion.

Generally, a government has immunity from tort liability under Neb. Rev. Stat. §13-910(1)(2) "Tort Claims act shall not apply to any claim based upon the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty on the part of a political subdivision or an employee of the political subdivision…"

(Refer to your local school attorney for specific concerns and advice, as situations vary.)

QUESTION: Is the annual review just for school plans, or is each building reviewed?

The intent is that each facility be reviewed (visited) annually, along with any safety/security plans covering that facility.

QUESTION: Can larger school districts have the annual reviews conducted on only a percentage of their facilities each year?

The intent is that each facility will be reviewed annually.

RE: MISCELLANEOUS ISSUES

QUESTION: Why are the due dates so short?

The school safety is a high priority of the State Board of Education. Therefore, new provisions are in effect for the 2000-2001 school year.

The due dates are based on the established time schedules found in Rule 10 for annually meeting the requirements: Assurance Statements showing compliance are due by November 1, of each year.

Schools have until February 1, 2001, the due date for corrections of any violations, to prepare a Safety/Security plan (011.01B) and to establish a Safety and Security Committee (011.01C).

Because the external review in 011.01D occurs after the development of a plan, it may be conducted any time during the 2000-2001 school year, or it may be carried over until February 1st, 2002. 

QUESTION: Is the state going to provide funds to offset cost for committee members, and to hire the outside reviewers?

State funds are not available at this time specifically for the purpose of funding school safety committees, safety plans, or annual safety reviews. 

The federal Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) includes a grant program for local school districts to support drug, alcohol, tobacco, and violence prevention education. The allocations are determined by school membership and in Nebraska the 2000-2001 amount is $3.3684 per child.

If a school district has an approved SDFSCA grant AND if their local advisory committee has determined that school security is a priority, a portion of the districts grant funds may be used. In SDFSCA there is a cap of 20% maximum per grantee allowed for security purposes. This statute is currently being considered for federal reauthorization.

If a district participates in the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Committees Act through a Consortium, the district should contact their Consortium leader for guidance on the use of the funds.

If there are additional questions about the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, a district may contact the Department of Education.

QUESTION: How can parents with safety concerns, which they feel are being ignored by the current school administration, address those concerns?

Parents should work through procedures as established in local Board policies to address concerns. If a parent feels the school is in violation of any provisions in Rule 10, Section 011.01 requiring safe and orderly schools, they may contact the Accreditation Section of the Nebraska Department of Education.


For additional information please contact:

School Accreditation Information: Accreditation and School Improvement Team at 402.471. 2444