8 School Safety Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Supporting your child’s education includes helping with homework and making sure they have the tools needed to succeed. But, it also means demanding a seat at the table whenever decisions are being made that impact your child’s safety.

The first step you can take in ensuring your child’s school is taking safety and student support seriously is to ask school leadership the following questions:

1. Is there a dedicated safety team in place?

If YES, ask who is on it?

Ideally, a school safety team should include school leaders, teachers, a school counselor, parents, and a representative from local law enforcement.

If NO, request that one be started.

To do so, engage the school’s student counselor and follow up the chain of command within your district until the request is met. Document your attempts. For the greatest impact, speak with other parents and ask that they join in your appeal.

2. Where can I review our school’s current safety policy?

You school’s safety policy should be updated regularly to include the most recent recommendations from the National Association of School Psychologists’s Framework for Safe and Successful Schools.

3. What is the protocol for students who want to report a threat?

Ideally, the school employs a counselor or mental health professional that has spoken with students about how to identify potential red flags, and steps to take if they are concerned.

4. What kind of building security measures are currently in place?

At the bare minimum, every school should incorporate visitor check-in/check-out systems and have secured all access points to the school campus, including parking lots, playgrounds, and surrounding fields.

5. Does our school have a school resource officer (SRO) or other type of security personnel on school premises?

If YES, ask the following questions:

    • What type of training have they received?
    • Are they armed?
    • What is their role and authority in the event of an actual emergency?

If NO, consider if a school resource officer is right for your school.

We’ve outlined everything that you need to know about SROs in A Parent’s Guide to School Security: School Resource Officers (SROs). If you feel that a school resource officer would be a benefit, follow the steps suggested above to request one be employed.

6. In the event of an emergency, how are students evacuated from the building?

Schools should conduct safety drills throughout the school year to ensure that all students are prepared in case an actual evacuation needs to take place.

7. If students are forced to evacuate, how are parents notified and what is the process for student pick-up in an emergency?

It’s important that your child’s school has a crisis release process in place to ensure that students are not allowed to leave with an unauthorized person.

8. How can students and parents provide ongoing feedback to school leaders on the climate in their classroom or school?

It’s important that parents and students have a means to communicate with school higher-ups about any concerns as they arise. If the current policy is for parents and students to go through a teacher, request that a communication channel be opened up with the school’s assistant principal or principal. Ideally, this is an in-person forum that invites multiple parents to communicate and get updates simultaneously, so that no concern is left unheard.