Ashby C. Kilgore, Ed.D.
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About School Safety
The safety of our students continues to be of utmost importance to Newport News Public Schools (NNPS). Schools that are smart and safe open doors for all students by building a foundation of high expectations, rigorous content, and persistent support. We employ a variety of security measures in our daily efforts to provide safe and secure learning environments. These measures reflect our community's high expectations for school safety and include the following:
Newport News Security and Safety Committee: This committee focuses on crisis planning and management and continues to develop proactive community partnerships that assist with overall school safety. Its members include representatives from School Security, Administration, Transportation, Community Relations & Legislative Services, Youth Development, Instructional Staff, Newport News Police and Fire Departments, Newport News Sheriff's Office, Newport News Emergency Management, and a member of the School Board.
School Security Officers: NNPS has one of the largest school security departments in Virginia. Reporting to an Assistant Superintendent, the supervisor and assistant supervisor manage a staff of sixty-eight (68) School Security Officers. Sixty-three (63) assigned to high, middle, and designated elementary schools, and five (5) "rover" School Security Officers who rotate among the remaining elementary schools and can respond to an event at any school. All officers are Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services certified as School Security Officers and receive additional professional development throughout the year. In addition, the Newport News Police Department assigns School Resource Officers to each secondary school.
Emergency Management Plans: NNPS has Crisis Management Plans in place at each school and a divisionwide Crisis and Emergency Response Plan. Each school's principal develops the Crisis Management Plan with his or her staff to meet and exceed the standards established by state law. The plan serves as an operating guide for a wide range of emergencies and reflects each school's unique characteristics. Division staff recently revised and expanded the Crisis and Emergency Response Plan. It serves as a guide for all schools to consider when developing their Crisis Plans to ensure compatibility and consistency throughout the division. We audit and practice these plans throughout the year.
Physical Security Improvements: We use proven physical security survey checklists and principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) at each school to determine low- to no-cost improvements that will tend to make the area "unattractive" to criminal activity. In addition, there is ongoing installation of state-of-the-art camera surveillance systems to help deter, detect and investigate activities that interfere with "safe schools that support learning."
Class Action Program: The Virginia Attorney General's Office has developed the Class Action program to teach children character education and their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the Commonwealth. Class Action also has a gang reduction component with individual curriculum for high, middle, and elementary school students, as well as curriculum for parents and teachers. The program is taught in Virginia exclusively by law enforcement officers who have been certified as Class Action instructors. In Newport News, school resource officers from the Newport News Police Department teach Class Action in our middle and high schools. Deputies from the Newport News Sheriff's Office teach the program in our elementary schools.
Regional Youth Violence Prevention Initiative: NNPS, along with the Newport News Police Department, is an active member of the Regional Youth Violence Prevention Initiative which includes the school divisions and police departments/sheriff offices from Hampton, Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Poquoson, and Gloucester County. The initiative combines the efforts of the localities and builds upon existing cooperation between the school divisions and the local law enforcement agencies to work toward reducing youth violence in the communities and schools.
School Safety Tip Line: Students and their families may call 591-3800 to anonymously report safety or other concerns at their schools. Tips are investigated and handled internally or forwarded to the police department as appropriate. The tip line provides a method of reporting concerns that may not rise to the level of the Peninsula Crime Line (1-888-LOCK-U-UP) or 911, while ensuring that callers' information will be acted upon.
In the event of an emergency, the school division will publicize information for parents on our web site, www.nnschools.org; via ParentLink, a web-based notification system that enables us to send messages via email and telephone; on NNPS Cable Channel 47; on our Information Line, 283-7810; and through local media outlets as permitted. If notified of an emergency at your child's school, do not go to the school unless the notification instructs you to do so. If you go to the school when not instructed to, you may put your child, yourself, or others at risk.
To help keep your family safe, I encourage you learn and prepare for emergencies that might happen in the community or your home. Excellent resources are available at www.redcross.org; www.readyvirginia.gov; and www.nngov.com/emergency-management.
Please be assured that we take many other precautions to help ensure the safety of our students. If you have questions or concerns about school safety, please contact your child's principal.
Thank you for your understanding and assistance.
Ashby C. Kilgore, Ed.D.