School Security

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In its April 2017 report “The Condition of Education—School Crime and Safety,” the National Center for Education Statistics provided information on the prevalence of victimization at school for students ages 12 to 18. While report identifies three types of victimization, serious violent victimization—including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated assault—tops the list.

The report summarizes results in total and by grade, demographics, and type of school (public or private). It concludes that there has been a decrease in victimization and in each of the subcategories. It also includes findings on students who report being bullied at school.

What’s missing from the report is any indication of where victimization occurs, what has been or can be done to keep the numbers low, and how older students might answer the same questions.

The authors and speakers that follow shed light on these compelling topics.

Each month we off free resources on our security spotlight topics. These are a sampling of the vast resources available to ASIS members. Not a member? Join Today   

School Security

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School Bus Safety
White Paper, 2017
School Safety and Security Council

In this white paper, seven authors approach school bus safety and security from various angles. The paper opens with a detailed look at school bus driver selection, training, and accident culpability. It includes statistics on school transportation vehicle crashes and instances of bus driver intoxication. Also,

  • A list of 24 emergency management points for school bus operations focuses on preparedness, such as responding to detours and in-route crises; having a charged cell phone always available; and detailing an accident scene with 360-degree photos.
  • An interactive article includes links to the author’s research related to school buses. Topics center on children left on buses or injured in a crash, driver misbehavior, and bus vandalism.
  • Authors from three school and university systems focus on school bus vulnerabilities, best practices, and potential improvements.

Another article cites federal and state legislation concerning school bus swing arm technology. It also details how stop arm video violation systems work and how they can be used to catch drivers that illegally pass a stopped school bus. Implementing these systems can be a challenge, however, because of lack of funding, state laws, and the use of public- or privately-owned school buses.

activeshooter.jpg Active Shooter
White Paper, 2016
School Safety and Security Council

This paper consists of articles by twelve council authors. It concludes with five appendices that reference a tabletop exercise, two Security Management articles, a guide from the U. S. Department of Education, and an ASIS International guideline.

Five of the articles deal with active shooters, phases of an attack, and K-12 schools as soft targets. Another four describe ways to gather proactive intelligence by using situational awareness to observe pre-attack indicators, behavioral threat assessment teams, behavioral cues, and target hardening of classroom doors through physical security enhancements. Three more look into responses, including training for and the actions of emergency responders and the pros and cons of arming teachers.

The article, “Lessons Learned,” explores the need for both school officials and first responders to evaluate what happened during a training drill or actual event. The following questions can guide that review:

  • What strategies worked well and what did we do right during the response?
  • What could have been done better?
  • What systems and procedures worked well and what needs to be re-evaluated or changed?
  • What additional equipment or training would have made the response better?

Campus Security Responding to Rape and Sexual Assault image.png Campus Security: Responding to Rape and Sexual Assault
White Paper, 2016
School Safety and Security Council

One in five female students will be raped while attending college. This alarming statistic prompted nine authors and reviewers from three ASIS councils to prepare articles that define rape as a crime on college campuses. They also address how to prevent sexual assault at schools and how to investigate accusations. The articles:

  • Advocate moving away from vague campus zero tolerance policies. Instead, they encourage administrators to establish policies and disciplinary guidelines that outline the consequences of infractions and the adjudication process, leading to a culture of awareness, civility, and compliance at schools.
  • Address the multiple offenses that are bundled under the term rape, including acquaintance rape, stranger rape, date rape, and drug-induced rape.
  • Confirm that many victims don’t report that they were assaulted, and schools tend to underreport sexual assault crimes, meaning statistics are unreliable.
  • Promote the use of student awareness campaigns.

The problem of sexual assault by staff members is also discussed, noting the long-term effects on the victim. A list of solutions includes educating staff, parents, and students; conducting careful background checks of employees and volunteers; and monitoring server logs to unearth access to inappropriate sites.

Explicit articles on sexual assault at fraternities and in the military are countered with guidelines on rape investigation as well as awareness and accountability programs. The paper concludes with details on a research project, a criminal investigation, and further readings.

Bullying, Cyberbullying, Teasing, Hazing, Harassmentbullying.jpg
White Paper, 2014
School Safety and Security Council | Women in Security Council | Crime Prevention and Loss Prevention Council

This collaborative effort identifies issues, examines what seems to be working and what isn’t, and recommends guidelines tailored to local school conditions.

Statistics on cyberbullying in schools from a 2013 Virginia School Safety Audit indicate that school administrators are unaware of this activity in their schools: only two statewide reported more than 100 incidents in the previous year, and more than half said there were none. However, data collected from students the same year portray a different picture: 85 percent witnessed and/or experienced bulling at school.

As a result, “all reports from students, staff, and others must be met with decisive action, an immediate investigation, and fair consequences so kids do not lose confidence in the school’s capacity to act.”


test circle.pngOne School’s Journey to Target Hardening

Seminar Session 3110, September 2016
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Kevin Davis, CPP, Harding University

The speaker considers school safety and security to be his passion, principally because his family lives on the Harding University campus of 7,000 students, which also includes a pre-k to grade 12 academy and a retirement center. His talk focuses on the academy and finding a balance between “safe but accessible.” His process for achieving this goal is a cycle of six steps: evaluate the situation, complete a cost/benefit analysis, recommend physical security improvements then communicate, train, and test. The results of the testing, he contends, will lead back to reevaluating the situation, and the cycle begins again.

He peppers his talk with examples of impediments to improved security, including “convincing the money men” that the cost is worth the investment. He admits that incident such as Sandy Hook can scare an administration into action. He also puts great emphasis on training. “Educators are there to teach the kids, but they never expected to learn security awareness.” Through training, he contends, teachers, staff, and students will fall back on what they’ve learned to do when an incident arises.

extracir sec.pngSecuring a School’s Extracurricular Activities

Seminar Session 4209, September 2016
Download the Slideshow


Paul Timm, PSP, RETA Security, Inc.

The lack of security at extracurricular school events was self-evident to the speaker as he escorted his four high school age children to indoor track events at neighboring school districts. Impediments ranged from lack of parking instructions, specific entry points, signage, and supervision. “All the security systems and programs we have rest precariously on people and documented practices,” he says. But, the typical school incident command center approach does not apply after school because administrators are not present.

He advocates circulating a staff skills survey and inventory to see who knows first aid, CPR, fire fighting, food preparation, ham radio operation, and languages—including including sign language—to see what skills or equipment could be used on an emergency. He also focuses on establishing a timeline for opening doors based on needs of the school, not the parents. He cautions against school’s “making decisions based on a fear of community opposition,” then explores how adhering to this policy extends to the use of lighting, access control, border definition, event security, and asset location.

active shoot school.pngActive Shooter Procedures for Schools

Seminar Session 3208, September 2015


Paul Timm, PSP, RETA Security, Inc.

A key point of this presentation centers on the security community's responsibility for changing the cultural mindset in schools that "there will never be trouble here." The goal of school security professionals should be to "provide a safe and security environment in the company of those who are not sure about the concepts" but who may think they know the answers. Changing that culture, says Timm, requires, "education, modeling, and the inclusion of and collaborating with students who have a better pulse for what's going on."

After reviewing the pros and cons of lockdowns, ALICE, and run/hide/fight, Timm offers response options based on collaboration and consensus among school and security stakeholders, including parents and law enforcement. He advocates frequent instruction and drills designed to move people to where they are safest as fast as possible. "All security is a game of time," he says, "and the best one wins." He urges security professionals to consider the following:

  • Set up online accounts to follow the Red Cross, DHS, the national weather service, and Twitter Alerts for fast notification of incidents and threat changes.
  • Develop great relationships with students, who will share intelligence with people who they know care about them.
  • Avoid trendy "after market" devices such as barricades, door magnets, and sleeves, that can cause more problems and violate fire codes.


school_security.jpg School Security: How to Build and Strengthen a School Security Program

Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2015

Author: Paul Timm, PSP
Chapter 2: How Safe Is Your School?

Peppered with informative exhibits, figures, and examples, this chapter makes the following point, according to the author: "People provide security.  Everything else—cameras, access control systems, metal detectors, x-ray machines, and security centers—exist to support the people that provide security."

Timm provides a "roadmap for measurably improving security's ability to prevent loss in a school setting." An important first step is for school administrators to make security a priority by including it in mission statements and hiring a dedicated security professional backed by reasonable financial and human resources. "A real security program," writes Timm, "depends on a collaborative effort that solicits input from a broad base of school stakeholders." He advocates forming teams to take on security planning and assessment as well as emergency planning, avoiding practices that have negative consequences such as open classroom design and portable classrooms.  The following keys to effective school security programs are emphasized:

  • Administrators should publicly express their commitment to security and demonstrate that commitment by example (always wear an ID badge, for example).
  • Security should be a responsibility for which administrators are evaluated and recognized.
  • School administrators and security staff should make sure that local police officers and fire fighters know their way around their K-12 campuses, and they should know them by name.

crimeprevention2.jpg Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, 3rd, Ed.

Elsevier, 2013

Authors: Timothy Crowe; revised by Lawrence Fennelly
Appendix B: School CPTED Survey

This School Security Survey/Assessment will help you to evaluate the physical setting of facility and maintenance factors that affect the safety and crime quotient capability of a particular school.

Soft Target Hardening: Protecting ​People​ from Attack

CRC Press, 2015

Authors: Jennifer Hesterman, Ph.D.
Deterring and Mitigating Attack

The goal of soft target hardening is simple: Deter any would-be attackers through the presence of a secure facility and if they breach your access points or strike from inside, engage with the ability to mitigate the attack and save the lives of your staff and occupants.


Bullying, Harassment, Hazing & Domestic School Violence

ASIS Webinar, September 2015

  • Marianna Perry, CPP, Securitas Security Services, USA
  • Lawrence Fennelly, Litigation Consultants, Inc.
  • Linda Watson, CPP, Whirlaway Group, LLC

In her introduction to the topic, Watson notes that bullying in schools is about students pushing students to the breaking point through a combination of verbal, social, physical, and cyber means. When parents learn that their child has been bullied, they may seek help from law enforcement. The better approach, says Watson, is to take personal action by learning the signs, knowing state bullying laws, and getting involved in school function such as the PTA.  Fennelly picks up on this theme, suggesting that parents document everything by sending letters to school, politicians, and the media, for example. Perry focuses on the types of bullying, including who bullies and who is apt to be a target. She offers tips for adults aimed at stopping bullying and for student targets needing support. The following general points are emphasized:

  • Prevention and training are always the best way to stop bullying.
  • Proactive intervention by schools sends a loud and clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated.
  • Educating parents of the warning signs is an effective way to stop bullying early.

CPTED: Stop Talking About It and Live It!

ASIS Webinar, March 2017​​​

  • Mike Amaro PSP CPTED, CHS-IV
  • Toby Heath CPP, PSP, CPTED, CHS-IV​
  • ​Michael LaMontagne RA, LEED AP​

This webinar is the first in a series on Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). Since the critical elements and features of environments vary, sometimes dramatically, this series will explore the key principles of CPTED and its successful implementation in different settings. 

This program outlines the fundamental principles underlying CPTED with a focus on how to implement them. Understanding these principles and actually applying them are two very different propositions. Often the execution of the implementation falls short, leaving the facility even more vulnerable than if CPTED hadn’t been considered at all. 

Presenters will briefly discuss CPTED principles by highlighting specific design cases, then dive deep into real world examples enhanced through photographic documentation. Each case will demonstrate where and how the principles were applied from two points of view (security professional vs. architect). Floor plans, design phases, planned versus actual cost, building codes, and the maintenance of CPTED elements will be investigated.

Creating a Safe Culture on School Campuses

ASIS Webinar, August 2016​​​

  • Marianna Perry, CPP, Securitas Security Services, USA
  • Lawrence Fennelly, Litigation Consultants, Inc.

This 90-minute webinar examines the culture of violence prevalent in some school systems from K-12 up through the College and University level. Discussion centers on current safety problems, as well as addressing some possible solutions. 

​The webinar presents three different case studies of schools in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Lexington, Kentucky that examine​ their school campus culture after a serious security issue occurred.

Updates in CPTED: Strategies for the 21st Century

ASIS Webinar, August 2017​​​

  • Marianna Perry, CPP, Securitas Security Services, USA
  • Lawrence Fennelly, Litigation Consultants, Inc.

In the second webinar in the ASIS CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) webinar series, the final four of the seven principles of CPTED design will be illustrated: 1) image and/maintenance; 2) activity program support; 3) target hardening; 4) geographical juxtaposition. The webinar will include a discussion regarding the three "Ds", Design, Designation & Definition as described in Tim Crowe's seminal work Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. These principles will be updated to present 21st century strategies or third generation CPTED. Important new concepts, including the psychological properties of colors, will be addressed. ​​​


​​​"An Education Connection"

Security Management, September 2017​​
by Holly Gilbert Stowell​​, Associate Editor

With a staff of more than 2,000 people and an annual operating budget of $360 million, Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (Eastern Suffolk BOCES) provides a variety of support for K-12 schools in Long Island, New York. 

​​“It could be things such as the schools’ IT support; we can host their computers and their servers; we can help out with test grading and professional development for their staff,” says Ryan Ruf, associate superintendent for management services at Eastern Suffolk BOCES. “And there are dozens and dozens of other services that we provide to public schools.” There are 51 school districts, called component districts, that the organization serves.

Located in 37 different buildings that Eastern Suffolk BOCES either rents or owns, the organization puts a priority on security to protect the wealth of sensitive student and school information that it houses. ​

​​​"Peer 2 Peer Protection"

Security Management, September 2017​​
by Megan Gates​​, Associate Editor

Daisy Torres wants to pursue a career in law enforcement after she graduates from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. So, when she was looking for student employment opportunities, she discovered that the university hired students to work in its public safety dispatch center. 

She applied for a position, but wasn’t hired. That didn’t deter her, however, and during her sophomore year of college in 2016 she found out about another opportunity for undergraduates to work with the University’s Department of Public Safety: becoming a student security officer.​​

"Schoolhouse Guardians"

Security Management, October 2017​​
by Holly Gilbert Stowell, Associate Editor

Village Christian School, home to 1,100 students in grades K-12, is set in California’s Sun Valley in a quiet, residential neighborhood. “We’re off the beaten path,” says Mike Custer, director of facilities at Village Christian.

“That’s kind of nice….but that means there’s not much observation of the campus by the public either.”

With its large student body and more than 100 faculty members, the school’s top concern is providing a safe and secure learning environment. “The threat has always been trespassers, vandalism, and theft,” Custer says, noting that custodial staff goes home at about 11 p.m. at the latest, and staff shows up at about 6 a.m. in the mornings. “The challenge for us has always been, how do you protect the campus in a cost-effective way at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m.—at the times when there is literally no one on campus?”

“School of Threats”

Security Management, November 2016

  • Marisa Randazzo, SIGMA Threat Management Associates
  • Jeffrey Nolan, JD, Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C.
  • Dorian Van Horn, SIGMA Threat Management Associates

This article begins with a scenario featuring a female university sophomore. The student told the school’s Title IX coordinator that her former boyfriend, another student, sexually assaulted her in 2014. While the two broke up over the summer, the student thought her ex-boyfriend was stalking her now that they were both back on campus.

The article details the various options and support resources were presented to the student. Ultimately, the college’s threat assessment team became involved to assess the situation from a safety perspective, while coordinating with the institution’s Clery investigation. It then explores how to create and train such a team, what they need to know about Clery requirements, and how to comply with legal limits to its investigative efforts.

The authors finally discuss how the team was able to facilitate a successful conclusion to the scenario.

“As School Year Begins, France Enhances Security at Educational Institutions”

Security Management, September 2016
by Thomas Vonier, CPP, Architect

According to the author, the ISIS-inspired attacks in Paris and Nice left French parents fearing that new violence would strike at any time. That fear was heightened with the pending return of children to school after the summer vacation. In response, the French Interior Ministry listed new steps and planned others to thwart attacks. This new strategy to secure educational institutions is based on three pillars:

  • Anticipate—increases coordination between local stakeholders to create academic crisis cells and mobile phone directories to ensure the optimal transmission of information.
  • Secure—creates mobile patrols by regular security forces.
  • Ready to Act—focuses on educating and informing students and staff about what to do in a terrorist attack.

The article concludes by discussing specific training and physical barriers that will be added where necessary.

“School Security Trends”

Security Management, September 2016
by Holly Gilbert Stowell, Associate Editor

When plans to commit a tragedy on school grounds are thwarted, security experts have found a common thread: critical information was reported and acted upon in a timely manner. While they hesitate to say that mass shooting are preventable, they acknowledge that by connecting key indicators future threats could be stopped.

A number of factors can meet that goal at schools:

  • Create safety committees that include police, first responders, administrators, and custodians.
  • Take an “all-hazards” approach to safety and security training for faculty, staff, and students.
  • Form threat assessment teams that can gather information from multiple sources when the behavior of a student, colleague, or another has raised alarm.

The article cites examples of how various school systems have used threat assessments. One improvement occurred when a school had to be evacuated after a methane gas explosion at dismissal time. School buses were parked at the school entrance, which prevented fire and emergency vehicles from pulling up to the scene.

In all cases, threat assessment training with school, law enforcement, business, and community stakeholders built trust as they learned to speak a common language.

“The Role of School Resource Officers”

Security Management, January 2017
by Mo Canady, Executive Director, National Association of School Resource Officers

This interview with the National Association of School Resource Officer's Executive Director Mo Canady provides insight into the functions, training, and role of school resource officers.


Security Management, May 2017
by Holly Gilbert Stowell, Associate Editor

​Fourteen people were shot and killed during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center (IRC) in San Bernardino, California, on December 2, 2015. The incident was eventually classified as an act of terrorism, because the shooters had ties to the Islamic State.

Assistant Chief of Police Eric McBride tells Security Management that his department was immediately reliant on outside organizations for help in the aftermath. “We had several hundred people, including victims that weren’t wounded, from the scene, and witnesses that needed to be transported to an offsite location so they could be interviewed,” he says. 

“Yale Opens Doors”

Security Management, December 2016
by Holly Gilbert Stowell, Associate Editor

Following an active shooter threat to Yale University, the central campus went into lockdown mode, and everyone was ordered to shelter in place. While the threat was bogus, the school’s IT team and public safety department decided to upgrade its access control system. The article details the ensuing process, from selecting a vendor, to pulling data into the new system, to installation.


Information Resources Center (IRC) Security Databases & Library Catalog

The Security Database & Library Catalog of the IRC has hundreds of records on school security (K-12), including references to books, Security Management articles, Annual Seminar recorded sessions, and other documents.  Print items are available for use onsite in the O.P. Norton Information Resources Center (IRC) by ASIS International members.  Some items have links to electronic versions accessible via the Internet. 

To access the database online, sign-in to the ASIS website, then go to the library webpages to navigate to the Security Database & Library Catalog.  Search the subject field using the phrase "School Security."

 For more help and search suggestions, see "Search Tips" on the website, or email the librarians with questions.

ASIS members may also be interested in the Resource Guide on School and Campus Security.