Managing school safety in Newport News Public Schools requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted, and integrated approach that involves all stakeholders in the school community. The school safety framework is comprised of school division and community resources systematically aimed at creating positive school environments, supporting student well-being, preventing school violence, and protecting the school community through effective security measures and preparedness planning. The layers in the framework are reviewed each year and updated as needed to reflect lessons learned and best practices researched from other school divisions.
NNPS has crisis management plans for each school and a division-wide emergency operations plan. The school plans serve as an operating guide for a wide range of emergencies with responses specific to each school's unique characteristics. These plans are audited and practiced throughout the year.
Code of Student Conduct
Based on Virginia code and the guidance from the Virginia Department of Education, the high expectations in the NNPS Code of Conduct prepare students for their role as a learner, future employee, and contributing citizen.
Relationships and Student Mental Well-Being
Newport News Public Schools is committed to providing the highest quality assistance, counseling, and direction to our students. This includes making provisions for classroom guidance, individual counseling, and group counseling for topics such as anger management and interpersonal relationships.
Student Reporting Procedures
In instances of bullying, intimidation, harassment, weapons, drugs, or any other safety concerns, students are able to anonymously report their concerns to school division staff using an electronic safety reporting program. Students can download the app, go directly to the website, email, call, or text. The safety reporting program monitors all reports and sends email notifications to school division staff as warranted.
Technology to Support Student Safety
The school division utilizes a platform that monitors the content of students’ Google Drive folders and their school division email accounts. It looks for inappropriate images, videos, and other adult content. It also monitors indications of self-harm, suicidal ideation, abuse, bullying, and threats of violence. The platform’s trained staff monitor 24/7 and provide notifications to school and district administrators based on the severity of the incident. The school division also utilizes a web filter that prevents students from searching/viewing inappropriate images/videos and sends alerts to school staff when it detects anything related to self-harm, abuse, or bullying.
Building Access and Monitoring
All visitors must use a single point of entry at all schools. They must communicate with office staff using a camera/intercom system prior to admittance, and report directly to the main office to have their ID scanned by a multifaceted security software that screens, manages and tracks all visitors and school volunteers. The system also alerts school personnel if any visitor is on the sex offender registry.
Interior and exterior security cameras are positioned in strategic locations throughout all school buildings to monitor and record student and staff movement and activities. All school buses are also outfitted with security cameras and GPS.
Safety Drills and Procedures
Fire, tornado, lockdown, and other safety drills are conducted as required by state law. The procedures are contained in each school crisis kit, and evacuation routes are prominently displayed in each classroom and hallway.
Safety Procedures and Emergency Situation Training
In addition to the drills mentioned above, the school division will conduct training on safety procedures in the event of an emergency situation on school property. The training will be conducted with students and employees in each school at least once each school year. School Security will provide safety training courses at faculty meetings throughout the school year and to staff at other NNPS worksites. To satisfy the requirement to train students each year, school principals and administrators will be encouraged to hold an annual safety town hall meeting. The information shared will be provided by the School Leadership department.
School Security Officers are trained annually using the school division’s current electronic program for mandatory trainings. Included in the platform is an emergency management curriculum that will be incorporated in the training developed for staffs at schools and worksites.
A team of 71 NNPS school security officers who are trained by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice are tasked with maintaining order and securing the premises of school locations. School Resource Officers (SROs) from the Newport News Police Department (NNPD) support NNPS in safeguarding our students. When necessary, NNPD presence may be increased upon request by school division administrators. Open communication between the school division and NNPD allows changes in the level of support to occur swiftly as needed.
Searches – Random and Planned
In order to meet the goal of safe and orderly schools, video surveillance equipment, metal detectors, vehicle searches, random searches of personal property, and drug and munitions dogs are used to discourage students from engaging in unsafe activities and to uncover potential prohibited items. Random searches are conducted on school buses, in classrooms, and when applicable, in student lockers. Searches may be executed at the direction of the principal or designee to help maintain a safe school environment.
Social Media Monitoring
School division and NNPD staff work together in monitoring social media posts to the extent possible for indications of self-harm or threats of violence to students or staff so that the appropriate actions may be taken to address the situation.
Newport News Public Schools encourages parents and other citizens invested in the safety of our school community to notify school personnel of any concerns or observations regarding school and student safety. Tips can be shared anonymously using the school division’s electronic safety reporting program.
Communications with Parents and the Community
An important aspect of school safety is addressing the information needs of parents and community members. School division staff realizes that in the event of an emergency, parents and community members want to know if their children are safe, the details of the emergency, and how it is being handled. The school division’s emergency communication protocols ensure that parents and community members receive accurate information as soon as possible.