The head of school safety for the Nebraska Department of Education says districts are doing a good job protecting students, but more can be done.
Jolene Palmer, the department’s director of school safety, says the most important thing is districts cannot let down their guard.
“We need to know what our protocols are and continue to have those protocols remain strong,” Palmer tells Nebraska Radio Network.
That means keeping building and classroom doors locked at all times, and keeping close tabs on school visitors.
But experts say being there for struggling students is a key way to prevent tragedies.
“Be inclusive to kids, so that they have friends. Build relationships between staff and students and between students and students,” Palmer says. “Sit with the lonely kid or the kid that’s sitting alone at the lunch table.”
Districts need to have a good relationship with their local law enforcement agencies and behavioral health professionals in the community.
“The idea with threat assessment is to be able to get the people talking who have information about someone – and it doesn’t need to be a student – it can be someone who has pieces of the puzzle that can be put together to give us a better picture,” Palmer explains.
“We can go back into almost any of the school incidents that have ever happened, and the same kind of things have happened,” she says. “It’s like somebody had a lot of information and somewhere along the line, the ball got dropped. What we’re trying to do is to keep the ball in the air.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:44]