- Gwinnett County School District
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Creating and Maintaining a Safe Environment in GCPS
School violence is a complex problem, but not a new one. School safety is a primary responsibility of local school administrators and the school board. Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) has solicited input from local school administrators, teachers, PTA/PTSO, school council, law enforcement, as well as national, state, and local leaders to institute best practices and solutions to ensure safe, secure, and successful schools for each and every student. GCPS has a three-pronged approach to school safety: prevention, protection and mitigation, and response and recovery.
The first line of defense in school safety is creating a school culture of belonging where students feel seen and heard, are taught how to choose good behavior, and know that their choices have consequences (positive or negative), and where staff support one another, and have confidence that their administrators care about them and the classroom learning environment.
When schools take safety seriously, communicate effectively, and collaborate with law enforcement to assess the school environment, many situations never escalate to impact the safety of students or the community.
Protection and Mitigation
GCPS has 113 school resource officers (SROs), these are safety professionals who specialize in creating and maintaining a safe school climate and are equipped to respond quickly and effectively in case of a threat. Our SROs work with local school administrators to train staff and students to be prepared in case of danger, and consult with industry experts to audit our schools to make sure they are as safe as possible. The FY2024 budget calls for funding to add a lieutenant position in the safety and security department.
Up-to-date Safety Equipment and Technology
Our schools also use a variety of technological tools to reinforce security. These are some—but not all—of the tools in place:
- Cameras — interior and exterior
- VMS and Raptor — visitor management systems that control access doors and screen adults against National Sex Offenders Registry
- USB and Public Safety Buttons — alerts that can notify staff internally or lock down the school
- Emergency Notification System (ENS) — notifications are sent to the 911 Call Center, where school cameras are accessible
- Tipline — 24/7 text or call number 770-822-6513
- Vestibules — Double glass door entry with bullet-resistant glass film at designated single point of entry for schools
- Push Button Door Locks — installed on each classroom door
Response and Recovery
In addition to creating and maintaining a safe environment every day, GCPS school administrators, SROs, system leaders, and local law enforcement plan and drill for the unexpected. Every school has a communication and reunification plan in place in case of an emergency that requires lockdown or evacuation, and regularly practices what to do in case those plans have to be put into action.