Safe and Secure Schools in GCPS
In the wake of the recent events in Parkland, Fla., school and community leaders, students and their families, educators, and emergency responders are all asking what can be done to prevent such tragedies in the future. Ensuring the well-being of our young people and district staff is a critical responsibility. Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) is committed to ensuring its schools are safe and orderly. The school system takes a very proactive approach to ensuring the safety of students, staff members, and campus visitors. We work closely with national, state, and local safety personnel— police, fire, emergency medical services, emergency management agencies, and public health— to ensure our schools are well prepared for an emergency. We want to share with our families many of the things we do to prepare for emergency situations...
- GCPS employs 89 School Resource Officers (SROs), including 15 new officers. These experienced and highly trained police officers are housed in schools— two SROs at every high school and one SRO at every middle school. They serve their home school as well as elementaries and other school facilities in the cluster. In addition to policing campuses, SROs focus on educating students and staff on safety issues and working with school administrators on school safety plans.
- School and district leaders review each building’s Emergency Management Plan, making modifications as needed. Approved by the Gwinnett County Office of Emergency Management, these plans are the guides to help staff and our public safety partners respond swiftly should a crisis occur. Reunification plans ensure that, in the event of an emergency, students can be evacuated to a safe place where they can reunite with their families.
- Key staff members at each school have assigned roles and responsibilities during an emergency, which they practice.
- The school system’s emergency response plan is modeled on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) that has been developed by the Department of Homeland Security.
- Every school conducts emergency drills throughout the year so that students and staff are aware of the most effective and safe emergency responses.
- Students take an active role in keeping their school safe by following rules. They are encouraged to report concerns to an adult on campus or to use GCPS’ confidential hotline— 770-822-6513.
- The district works with community partners— local law enforcement, the juvenile justice system, and emergency-response agencies— to ensure our schools are safe places to teach and to learn. For example, Gwinnett County Police and our SROs have held several active shooter drills at our facilities. The drills allow
principals to learn how police and emergency responders will react and respond should something happen in a school.
- e-SPLOST funding provided for the installation of new video camera systems to enhance security in the common areas in all schools. More than 3,000 security cameras have been upgraded/replaced at high schools, with security upgrades underway at other levels.
- The district has partnered with Gwinnett County government to make security upgrades on school campuses. County SPLOST proceeds provided emergency-response buttons in all schools. These buttons connect to the county 9-1-1 center and our school police headquarters, providing video feeds of schools in case of emergency. The county also funded a visitor management system for all elementary and middle schools. The buzzer systems restrict access to schools.
- A host of programs and strategies in Gwinnett schools are aimed at stopping conflict before it occurs or escalates, and at discouraging risky behaviors. Many GCPS schools are recognized as leaders in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program which proactively teaches and supports appropriate behavior to create a positive school climate.
- Age-appropriate programs address preventive measures for all students and interventions for those who have had a discipline run-in. Students learn about conflict resolution; anti- bullying techniques; how to say “no” to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gangs, and violence; dealing with and reporting harassment; and coping skills.
- GCPS provides education options for students who need support, teaching them important lessons about choices and consequences while they continue their coursework. Programs like Project Rescue and the Gwinnett Intervention Education (GIVE) Centers put students back on course to a diploma and future success, while addressing their behavior and discipline problems.