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Release Date: 8/22/2018
Contact: Office of Communications, 443.809.5908

County schools staff taking active assailant response training as part of ongoing effort to strengthen school safety

TOWSON, MD — While school shootings are statistically rare, recent incidents have heightened awareness of the possibility and led communities and school officials to seek measures to prevent them and mitigate their impact.

Baltimore County Public Schools, in partnership with the Baltimore County Police Department, has taken a comprehensive approach to school safety including an enhanced protocol for responding to the unlikely event of an active assailant.

Over the summer, 332 administrators, law enforcement officers, central office staff, and teachers participated in a two-day instructor certification course provided by the ALICE Institute. These instructors will provide face-to-face training to all staff beginning with school-based staff. The protocol – which uses the acronym ALICE for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate – will enhance the active assailant response currently identified for staff and students.

“We know that it is unlikely that we will have to face an active shooter situation," Superintendent Verletta White said, “but the stakes are so high that we must take advantage of the latest best practices and be prepared. The safety of our students and staff is our utmost responsibility, our highest priority."

This week, 17,500 employees received an e-mail link to take the online version of the course as a prerequisite to the face-to-face training. School staff will introduce students to the new protocol upon their return to school and engage them in tabletop exercises and drills throughout the school year.

Other recent enhancements to safety in BCPS include additional school resource officers for all levels including elementary schools, buzz-in visitor entrances, visitor management systems involving background checks, digital cameras, and additional psychologists and counselors. Next week, the school system will release a new multi-volume Comprehensive Safety Plan that addresses general operations as well as planned responses to natural disasters, extended utility outages, active shooters, and more.

On Aug. 21, Superintendent Verletta White’s proposal to create a new Division of School Climate and Safety was approved by the Board of Education of Baltimore County and will take effect beginning in the 2018 – 2019 school year.

“Creating the new Division of School Climate and Safety will provide holistic leadership for an issue that we know is top of mind for our parents, staff, and community," said White. “It will bring together our Department of School Safety and our Office of School Climate to provide better coordination and consistent services regarding the physical safety of students and their social-emotional well-being."

The division will be led by a chief of school climate and safety, whose position will be reclassified from a community superintendent position. Creating this new division also allows BCPS to create an executive director position for the Department of Social-Emotional Support.

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Baltimore County Public Schools
6901 Charles Street
Towson, Maryland 21204
443-809-4554

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Verletta White
Interim Superintendent

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©2018 Baltimore County Public Schools. All rights reserved.