SAFE SCHOOLS: Preventing School Violence NYS Mandatory Training

Specifics of New York State SAVE Legislation

Overview of the Concept of Violence

Statistics Related to School Violence

Reducting School Violence

Specifics of New York State SAVE Legislation




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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.

  1. 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 safety personnel.

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.

  1. 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 to parents/guardians;
  • 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 of violence.

  1. 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 of Conduct;
  • Policies and procedures for detention, suspension, and removal of the disruptive pupil;
  • Procedures for reporting Code violations and imposing penalties;
  • 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 provisions;
  • 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 as violent.

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.

  1. 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 affected students.

Principals are added to those empowered to suspend students from school entirely, without specific board delegation of that authority.

Required in the Codes of Conduct, school districts must include minimum periods of suspension for violent or repeatedly disruptive pupils.

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 district property.

Removal procedures:

  • 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 teacher.
  • Principal must be informed of reason for student removal by teacher.
  • Sets time lines for negotiations of removal to student and parent.
  • Requires notification of charges and an explanation for suspension with timelines as required by legislation.
  1. 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 prevention strategies.

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.

  1. Instruction in Civility, Citizenship, and Character Education

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.

  1. 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):

  • Communication;
  • Decision making,
  • Planning and goal setting;
  • Self-management;
  • Stress management; and
  • Advocacy.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Fingerprinting

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. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Child Abuse Reporting

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 changes to the child abuse reporting laws impacting teachers in 2007, 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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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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