New York State has a comprehensive approach
to school safety. Passed by the New York State legislature
in 2000, the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE)
legislation requires that persons seeking educational certification
in New York State must participate in a two-hour violence
prevention training. This training outlines what is required
for each school district and specific school regarding school
safety. The components of this legislation can, and should,
be integrated into all aspects of the school environment.
It is important that all stakeholders (students, teachers,
principals, administrators, parents, families and communities)
understand what is required and understand the consequences
of any violent threats or actions.
The SAVE legislation has multiple requirements: District-wide
school safety plans, building level emergency response plans,
codes of conduct, teacher authority/principal authority, uniform
violent incident reporting, instruction in civility, citizenship
and character education, school violence prevention training,
whistle blower protection, fingerprinting, assaults on teachers,
child abuse reporting, prohibition of silent resignations,
teacher discipline and court reporting.
- District-wide School Safety Plans
Each school district in the state must appoint a team to
develop a comprehensive safety plan, which should include
policies and procedures for:
- Responding to threats;
- Responding to acts of violence;
- Appropriate prevention/intervention strategies such as:
- Training for security personnel who may be called
to de-escalate a potentially violent situation;
- Conflict resolution;
- Peer mediation;
- Youth courts;
- Extended day programs.
- Contacting law enforcement;
- Contacting parents and/or guardians;
- School building security;
- Dissemination of informative materials regarding early
detection of potentially violent behaviors;
- Annual school safety training for staff and students;
- Protocol for responding to bomb threats, hostage taking,
intrusion and kidnapping;
- Developing strategies to improve communication among students
and between students and staff;
- Description of duties of hall monitors and other school
This team must include a representative of the board of education,
students, teachers, administrators, parent organizations and
other school and school safety personnel. Representatives
must be appointed by the board of education.
Learners who are completing this course as a requirement
of the SAVE legislation should recognize that such a plan
exists in the school district in which the learner will be
working. It is important to identify where the district-wide
School Safety plan is located and become familiar with its
policies and procedures.
Additionally, as noted above, the SAVE legislation requires
annual school safety training for staff and students. While
this training that you are now taking will fulfill the initial
requirement, it is important to recognize that additional
training is required to be provided on an annual basis. This
course should be considered as an overview of the topic, with
additional, focused training on safety occurring annually
at the district level.
- Building Level Emergency Response Plan
The principal of each school must appoint a team, utilizing
the guidelines established by the board of education. This
team is to include teachers, administrators, parent organizations,
school safety personnel, community members, law enforcement
and local ambulance or other emergency response agencies.
This plan must be submitted to local law enforcement agencies
and the New York State Police.
This building level plan must include:
- Policies and procedures for safe evacuation, to include
evacuation routes, shelter sites, procedures for addressing
medical needs, transportation, and emergency notification
- Designation of an emergency response team;
- Access to floor plans, blueprints, schematics of school
interior, grounds, and road maps of surrounding area;
- Internal and external communication systems;
- Implementation of an incident command center (ICS);
- Coordination with Statewide Disaster Mental Health Plan;
- Procedures to review and conduct drills and exercises
to test components of the plan;
- Policies and procedures for securing and restricting
access to the crime scene.
Learners who are completing this course as a requirement
of the SAVE legislation, should identify where the building
level Emergency Response Plan is located in their school.
The learner should become familiar with the policies and procedures
for responding to any school emergency, including a situation
- Codes of Conduct
Each school is required to adopt codes of conduct for the
maintenance of order on school grounds. The rules of conduct
must apply to teachers, students, personnel and visitors.
The Code of Conduct must include, at a minimum:
- Appropriate dress and language;
- Security issues;
- Removal from the classroom;
- Disciplinary procedures for those who violate the Code
- Policies and procedures for detention, suspension, and
removal of the disruptive pupil;
- Procedures for reporting Code violations and imposing
- Provision to insure compliance with State and Federal
laws in relationship to students with disabilities;
- Provisions for notifying law enforcement of violations
(e.g., violent crimes);
- Procedures for parental notification;
- Committee to review actions relating to the Code;
- Procedures regarding PINS petitions and juvenile delinquency
- Procedures for referral to human services agencies;
- Minimum suspension periods for students who are repeatedly
and substantially disruptive;
- Minimum suspension periods for acts that qualify a student
District-wide School Safety Plans, Building Level Emergency
Response Plans, and Codes of Conduct, are subject to public
hearing, reviewed and updated annually, and filed with the
Commissioner of Education no later than 30 days after adoption.
- Teacher Authority/Principal Authority
Consistent with the Code of Conduct, this authority allows
teachers to remove disruptive or violent students from the
classroom, utilizing appropriate procedural safeguards for
Principals are added to those empowered to suspend students
from school entirely, without specific board delegation of
Required in the Codes of Conduct, school districts must include
minimum periods of suspension for violent or repeatedly disruptive
A disruptive pupil is defined as one who is substantially
disruptive of the educational process or interferes with
the teacher's authority over the classroom.
A violent pupil is defined as one who
- Commits an act of violence on a teacher, other school
district employee, or fellow student;
- Possesses, displays, or threatens to use a gun, knife,
or other dangerous weapon;
- Knowingly and intentionally damages or destroys school
- Teachers report and refer violent pupils to administration
for minimum suspension period.
- Administration has the authority to suspend for up to
five days without delegation from the board of education.
- District shall implement policies and procedures to provide
for continued educational programming for removed pupil.
- Student must be informed of the reason for removal by
- Principal must be informed of reason for student removal
- Sets time lines for negotiations of removal to student
- Requires notification of charges and an explanation for
suspension with timelines as required by legislation.
- Uniform Violent Incident Reporting
In order to effectively deal with the problem of unsafe schools,
data must be collected in a systematic and unbiased manner.
Each school district, each school building, each person within
the school environment must approach the prevention of violence
utilizing the policies and procedures outlined within the
School Safety Plan which are consistent with all other policies
within the educational environment. Each violent act must
be defined and must be specific in order for the response
to violence to be applied evenly throughout the system. Only
through such consistency can the data that is collected be
useful in helping to evaluate the effectiveness of violence
This section of the legislation that addresses the uniform
incident reporting was established by the New York State Education
Department and the New York State Department of Criminal Justice
Services. Schools are required to report annually to the Commissioner
of Education on the following:
- Number and types of violent incidents;
- Number of suspensions and other forms of discipline;
- Location where incidents occurred;
- Whether the incident involved a weapon;
- Actions taken by the school;
- Ages and grades of disciplined pupils;
- The nature of the victim and victim's age when appropriate.
This includes an annual report to the governor and the legislature
regarding the prevalence of violent incidents on school grounds
and at school-sponsored functions and inclusion of such information
on school report cards.
- Instruction in Civility, Citizenship, and Character
School districts are required to include a civility, citizenship,
and character education component in the K-12 course of instruction
concerning the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal
responsibility, respect for others, observance of laws and
rules, courtesy, dignity, and other positive traits.
- Health Curriculum
The Board of Regents is required to review the current health
curriculum requirements to ensure that students have sufficient
time and instruction to develop the skills needed to address
issues of violence prevention and mental health.
NYS's educational mandates are based on a skills-based approach
in six critical areas (NYSCSS, 2001):
- Decision making,
- Planning and goal setting;
- Stress management; and
- Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education
The Commissioner of Education is to develop and distribute
an interpersonal violence prevention package to schools for
use in health and related areas.
- School Violence Prevention Training
The legislation also set the requirement that all individuals
seeking certification as of February 2001 must have completed
a two hour course in violence prevention, such as the one
you are now taking. However, this training provides an overview
regarding the SAVE legislation, so that the learner understands
that violence prevention and training for violence prevention
in the school is part of a comprehensive plan for school safety.
The mandatory training that you are now engaged in is just
the beginning. Additional Violence Prevention training must
be included in the Superintendent's Conference Days annually.
Violence prevention training for current staff must be addressed
in the annual professional development plan.
- Whistle Blower Protection
Protection is provided for those employees who report violent
incidents. Employees may not be disciplined or fired for reporting
violent incidents and are protected from any civil liability.
School district employees and applicants for certification
are required to be fingerprinted for a criminal history background
check in order to be cleared for employment. Volunteers are
not required to be fingerprinted.
The SAVE legislation allows that current employees of a school
district are not required to be fingerprinted. However, should
a current employee terminate employment and seeks employment
in a different school district, the individual must undergo
the fingerprinting process. The law also applies if a currently
certified individual applies for additional certification,
for example if a teacher applies for an administrator's certificate.
The New York State Education Department will collect the
fingerprints and a processing fee from each applicant and
submit to the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services.
Provisions exist for a waiver of the fee for applicants for
employment who demonstrate to the district that payment of
the fee would create a financial hardship. Criminal history
records, if any, will be sent by the NYS Department of Criminal
Justice Services and the FBI to the NYS Education Department
for review and consideration of whether any convictions or
outstanding arrests justify denial of clearance for employment
or certification. Applicants who are denied clearance will
be afforded an opportunity to challenge the determination
by the NYS Education Department and to review and challenge
content of criminal history records through the NYS Department
of Criminal Justice Services process.
- Assaults on Teachers
Penalties for assaults on teachers were increased in the
SAVE legislation. They went from a Class A misdemeanor to
a Class D felony.
- Child Abuse Reporting
In July, 2007 the Child Abuse Reporting laws were revised.
As mandated reporters, school officials who include, but are
not limited to: school teachers, guidance counselors, school
psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, school
administrators, or other school personnel required to hold
a teaching or other administrative license or certification,
must report their suspicions of child abuse or maltreatment/neglect
directly to the New York State Central Registrar (SCR). In
New York State the mandated reporter express line is: 1.800.635.1522.
Reflecting the recent changes to the child abuse reporting
laws, whenever a mandated reporter suspects child abuse or
maltreatment while acting in her/his professional capacity
as a staff member of a medical or other public or private
institution, school, facility or agency, he or she must report
the child abuse, as required by law and then immediately notify
the person in charge of that school, facility institution
or her/his designated agent. That individual is then responsible
for all subsequent administrative efforts related to that
report. Any report must include the names, titles and contact
information for each staff person in the institution who has
direct knowledge of the allegations in the report. The law
does not require more than one report from the institution,
school, facility or agency on any one incident of suspected
abuse or maltreatment.
The 2007 changes made by the New York State Legislature clarified
that reporting internally to the person in charge does
not discharge the mandated reporter's obligation to report
to the State Central Register. Additionally, the revised
law states that any person in charge of a medical or other
public or private institution, school, facility or agency
may not prevent the staff member, who is a mandated reporter,
from making a report. The revised law specifically states
that no retaliatory personnel actions can be taken against
mandated reporters by the institution. Additionally, 2007
revision to the law stated that no school, school official,
child care provider, foster care provider, residential care
facility provider, hospital, medical institution provider,
or mental health facility provider may impose additional conditions
about reporting, such as prior approval or prior notification,
upon any staff members who are mandated reporters of child
abuse and maltreatment.
Individuals who comply with the reporting requirements in
good faith will be entitled to immunity from any civil or
criminal liability that might otherwise result from such actions.
For more information about Child Abuse Identification and
Reporting, The New York State Mandated training, go to https://www.accesscontinuingeducation.com/ACE2000/course.htm.
- Prohibition of Silent Resignations
The SAVE legislation ends the practice of allowing persons
to resign rather than disclose allegations of child abuse.
It is now a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years
in prison, and a civil penalty not to exceed $20,000 for those
superintendents who allow employees to resign under such circumstances.
- Teacher Discipline
The SAVE legislation provides for a range of discipline measures.
In addition to revocation of a teaching certificate, discipline
will now include suspension, continuing education, limitation
on certificates and monetary fines.
- Court Notification
Family and criminal courts are to notify schools about juvenile
delinquency adjudications. This will help to increase the
coordination between the juvenile justice system and the schools.
It requires schools to appoint a Designated Educational Official
(DEO) to receive records and coordinate student's participation
in programs. Such notification and coordination cannot be
part of the student's permanent record; information can only
be used in the execution of the student's educational plan.
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