District Safety Plan


Emergencies and violent incidents in school districts are critical issues that must be addressed in an expeditious and effective manner. Districts are required to develop a District-wide School Safety Plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate the coordination of the district with local and county resources in the event of such incidents or emergencies. The district-wide plan is responsive to the needs of all schools within the district and is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level. Districts are at risk of a wide variety of acts of violence, natural, and technological disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. This component of Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses risk reduction/prevention, response, and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in the school district and its schools.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District supports the SAVE legislation, and intends to engage in an ongoing planning and review process to ensure the safety of staff and students in the District.

Section I: General Consideration and Planning Guidelines

A. Purpose 

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo District-wide School Safety Plan was developed pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17. At the direction of the School District’s Board of Education, the Superintendent of the School District appointed a District-wide School Safety Team and charged it with the development and maintenance of the District-wide School Safety Plan.

B. Identification of School Teams 

The District has appointed a District-wide School Safety Team consisting of, but not limited to, representatives of the School Board, students, teachers, administrators, parent organizations; school safety personnel; and, other school personnel. The members of the team and their positions or affiliations are as follows: 

  • Superintendent
  • School Business Manager
  • School Principals
  • Director of Facilities
  • EMS Representative
  • Law Enforcement Representative
  • School Nurses
  • Parent/Community Representative
  • Student Representative
  • BOCES Safety & Health
  • Board of Education Member
  • Teachers

C. Concept of Operations

The District-wide School Safety Plan is directly linked to the individual Building-level Emergency Response Plans for each school building.

In the event of an emergency or violent incident, the initial response to all emergencies at an individual school will be by the School Emergency Response Team.

During such emergencies or violent incidents, district personnel shall limit their responses to the scope of the training they have received to properly respond to said emergencies. This is for the safety and protection of all involved.

Upon activation of the School Emergency Response Team, the Superintendent of Schools or his designee will be notified and, where appropriate, local emergency officials such as the NY State Police, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and area fire and emergency medical organizations may also be called upon for assistance.

Section II: Risk Reduction/Prevention and Intervention

A. Prevention/Intervention Strategies 

Program Initiatives 

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District is committed to promoting and improving communication among students and between students and staff which will encourage the reporting of potentially violent incidents. The following organizations and programs currently established in the district support the concepts as described above: 

  • Mentor Programs
  • YMCA/St. Catherine’s After School Programs
  • Student Assistance Counselor/Guidance Counselors/Social Worker

Periodic assessments will be made to determine what additional measures are necessary to maintain a safe learning environment for students.

Training, Drills and Exercises

Safety drills and exercises will be conducted periodically throughout the school year. These drills and exercises include but are not limited to:

  • Fire Drills
  • Evacuation Drills
  • Lockdown Drills
  • Emergency Go-home Drills

The effectiveness and efficiency of these drills will be reviewed and assessed by the District Safety Committee.

Implementation of School Security

Security measures adopted by the district include a Dean of Students in the middle/high school and the requirement that visitors to all district school buildings report to the administrative offices upon arrival sign in and obtain a visitor’s pass.

See Appendix 1 (School Building Security) for additional information. 

Vital Educational Agency Information

The district maintains information on: school population, number of staff, transportation routing, and telephone numbers of key officials. This information is readily available in case of emergency and on file with local police agencies.

See Appendix 2 (Vital Educational Agency Information) for additional information

B. Early Detection of Potentially Violent Behavior

Faculty and staff in-service programs are under development for violence prevention training and early identification of potentially violent students.

Information regarding the early identification of potentially violent behavior has been made available to all students, staff and parents. These materials are disseminated through the offices of each school building and notice of their availability has been made through the building, and the district web page.

See Appendix 3 (Early Detection of Potentially Violent Behaviors) for additional information 

C. Hazard Identification

The following is a list of District supervised buildings and sites where potential emergencies could occur:

Within the School District:

  • Route 156 Hazardous Materials Trucking
  • Flooding
  • Route 443 Hazardous Materials Trucking
  • Route 85 Hazardous Materials Trucking

Within the School Grounds: 

  • Berne Elementary School and adjacent playgrounds
  • Berne-Knox-Westerlo Middle/High School and adjacent athletic fields
  • Track and soccer fields located behind the Berne Elementary School
  • District owned Nature Trail located behind the Middle/High School
  • District office and Transportation/Maintenance Building and adjacent athletic fields

Within the School Buildings:

  • Contained within the Confidential Building Level Plans Floor Plans.

Section III: Response

A. Notification and Activation (Internal and External Communications)

The school district has the necessary procedures in place for contacting appropriate law enforcement authorities in the event of a violent incident, with agency phone numbers posted in all district and building offices. Additionally, notification of a disaster or act of violence may be made throughout the district or act of violence may be made throughout the district via telephone, e-mail, fax or the local media. Parents of students are contacted using the above noted resources.

B. Situational Response

Multi-Hazard Response

Plans for taking action in various emergency situations are outlined in the NYS Guide to School Emergency Response Planning (Appendix 4)

Reponses to Acts of Violence: Implied or Direct Threats

The following procedures will be used in response to implied or direct threats of violence: 

  • Staff trained in de-escalation of violence or other strategies used to diffuse violent situations will be called upon as necessary.
  • Building principals will be notified of implied or direct threats,
  • The superintendent or his designee will be consulted and a determination of the level of the threat will be made.
  • Appropriate law enforcement officials will be contacted, if necessary.
  • The situation will be monitored and the response modified, as appropriate.

See Appendix 5 (Code of Conduct) for additional information.

Acts of Violence 

Response to acts of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school will be as follows:

  • The building principal/superintendent will be informed. 
  • The Superintendent or his designee will make a determination of the level of threat.
  • If appropriate, the immediate area will be isolated and evacuated, and/or a lockdown procedure will take place.
  • Local law enforcement agencies will be contacted for assistance.
  • The situation will be monitored and procedures adjusted, as appropriate.

Response Protocols

Response protocols are outlined in the district Emergency Operations Plan, and the Code of Conduct (Appendix 4 and Appendix 5).

Arrangements for Obtaining Emergency Assistance from Local Government

Emergency assistance from local agencies will be summoned by the superintendent/designee when necessary and appropriate. 

The superintendent/designee will contact the emergency management coordinator and/or the highest ranking local government official for obtaining advice and assistance, when necessary, especially during prolonged emergency situations.

Potential emergency response resources include: local fire departments, police agencies, local ambulance corps and emergency medical technicians, Hannay Hose Reel Company (Westerlo), local clergy.

District Resources Available for Use in an Emergency

Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School is a small rural district. Our resources are somewhat limited.

District buildings, vehicles, (buses, trucks, plows, backhoe), equipment (generators, tools) drinking water, grounds fields parking lots are all available if needed during emergency situations.

Procedures to Coordinate the Use of School District Resources and Manpower During Emergencies

The following school officials have the authorization to deploy manpower and approve the use of facilities and equipment during an emergency situation: 

  • School Personnel – Superintendent/Business Manager
  • School Buses – Superintendent/Business Manager/Director of Transportation
  • Facilities/Equipment – Superintendent/Business Manager/Director of Facilities

See Appendix 4 (School Emergency Response Plan) for additional information.

Protective Action Options 

The following actions will be taken in response to emergency situations:

School Cancellation

Monitor any situation that may warrant a school cancellation – Superintendent/team. 

  • Make determination – Superintendent
  • Contact local media – Superintendent

Early Dismissal 

  • Monitor situation – Superintendent
  • If conditions warrant, close school – Superintendent
  • Contact Director of Transportation to arrange transportation – Superintendent
  • Contact local media to inform parents of early dismissal – Superintendent
  • Set up an information center so that parents may make inquiries as to the situation.
  • Retain appropriate district personnel until all students have been returned home.

Evacuation (before, during and after school hours, including security during evacuation and evacuation routes).

  • Determine the level of threat – Superintendent/Designee. 
  • Contact Director of Transportation to arrange transportation – Superintendent/Designee.
  • Clear all evacuation routes and sites prior to evacuation.
  • Evacuate all staff and students to pre-arranged evacuation sites.
  • Account for all student and staff population. Report any missing staff or students to Building Principal.
  • Make determination regarding early dismissal – Superintendent/Designee.
  • If determination was made to dismiss early, contact local media to inform parents of early dismissal – Superintendent/Designee
  • Ensure adult supervision or continued school supervision/security.
  • Set up an information center so that parents may make inquires as to the situation.
  • Retain appropriate district personnel until all students have been returned home.

Sheltering sites (internal and external) 

  • Determine the level of threat – Superintendent/Designee
  • Determine location of sheltering depending on nature of incident
  • Account for all students and staff. Report any missing staff or students to designee.
  • Determine other occupants in the building
  • Make appropriate arrangements for human needs.
  • Take appropriate safety precautions
  • Establish a public information officer to provide information and current status of the situation to parents and other inquiring parties.
  • Retain appropriate district personnel until all students have been returned home.

See Appendix 4 (Emergency Response Plan) for additional information.

Section IV Recovery

District and community resources will be mobilized during and after a crisis to develop a specific plan of action which will respond to the physical and emotional needs of students, staff, parent, and/or community members. Refer to the District’s Crisis Intervention Plan.