The third meeting of the Nevada Legislature's Commission on School Safety and Juvenile
Violence (Assembly Bill 686, Chapter 607, Statutes of Nevada 1999) during the 1999-2000 interim
was held on Thursday, December 2, 1999, commencing at 9:30 a.m. The meeting was held in
Room 4401, Grant Sawyer State Office Building, Las Vegas, Nevada, and was video conferenced
to Room 3138 of the Legislative Building, 401 South Carson Street, Carson City, Nevada. Pages 2
and 3 contain the "Meeting Notice and Agenda" for this meeting.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT IN LAS VEGAS:
Senator Valerie Wiener, Chairman
Michael E. Johnson, Parent, Vice Chairman
Barbara Baxter, Teacher, Sparks High School
Tom Burns, Chief of Police, Henderson
Pamela Hawkins, Principal, Western High School
M. Kim Radich, Teacher, O'Callaghan Middle School
Vince Swinney, Retired, Law Enforcement Representative
COMMISSION MEMBERS IN CARSON CITY:
Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell
Marcia Bandera, Superintendent, Elko County School District
Annie Rees, Parent, Owner of Annie's Bail Bonds
Keith Savage, Principal, Yerington High School
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL BUREAU STAFF PRESENT IN LAS VEGAS:
Juliann K. Jenson, Senior Research Analyst
R. Rene Yeckley, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel
Linda Chandler Law, Senior Research Secretary
All place names mentioned in these minutes are in Nevada, unless otherwise noted.
Name of Organization: Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence
(Assembly Bill 686, Chapter 607, Statutes of Nevada 1999)
Date and Time of Meeting: Thursday, December 2, 1999
Place of Meeting: Grant Sawyer State Office Building
555 East Washington Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada
Note: Some members of the Commission may be attending the meeting, and other persons may observe the meeting and provide testimony, through a simultaneous video conference conducted at the following location:
401 South Carson Street
Carson City, Nevada
I. Opening Remarks by the Chair and Introductions
Senator Valerie Wiener
*II. Approval of the Minutes of the November 9, 1999, Meeting
*III. Review and Discussion Regarding the Development of a Statewide Emergency Response Plan to Incidents of School Violence
A. Ralph Cadwallader, Nevada Association of School Administrators
B. Debbie Cahill, Nevada State Education Association
C. Henry Etchemendy, Executive Director, Nevada Association of School Boards
D. Phil Gervasi, President, Police Officers' Association, Clark County School District (CCSD)
E. Brenda Kennedy, President, Nevada Parent-Teacher Association
F. Stan Olsen, Nevada Sheriff's and Chief's Association
G. Student Representatives, CCSD
*IV. Work Session: Development of a Statewide Emergency Response Plan to Incidents of School Violence
V. Public Comment
VI. Future Meetings and Directions to Staff
*Denotes items on which the committee may take action.
Note: We are pleased to make reasonable accommodations for members of the public who are disabled and wish to attend the
meeting. If special arrangements for the meeting are necessary, please notify the Research Division of the Legislative
Counsel Bureau, in writing, at the Legislative Building, 401 South Carson Street, Carson City, Nevada 89701-4747, or call
Linda Chandler Law, at (775) 684-6825, as soon as possible.
Notice of this meeting was posted in the following Carson City, Nevada, locations: Blasdel Building, 209 East Musser Street;
Capitol Press Corps, Basement, Capitol Building; City Hall, 201 North Carson Street; Legislative Building, 401 South Carson
Street; and Nevada State Library, 100 Stewart Street. Notice of this meeting was faxed for posting to the following Las Vegas,
Nevada, locations: Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 East Washington Avenue; and Clark County Office, 500 South Grand
OPENING REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN AND INTRODUCTIONS
Senator Valerie Wiener called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m., and reviewed the need to work toward drafting an emergency response plan that can be presented to Governor Kenny C. Guinn in early January 2000, as directed in the enabling legislation. She explained that:
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE NOVEMBER 9, 1999, MEETING
Approval of the minutes of the November 9, 1999, meeting in Reno, Nevada, was postponed until the next meeting.
REVIEW AND DISCUSSION REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF
A STATEWIDE EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN
TO INCIDENTS OF SCHOOL VIOLENCE
Ralph Cadwallader, Executive Director, Nevada Association of School Administrators (NASA), read from prepared testimony (see Exhibit A) and underscored NASA's:
Further discussing the collaborative process, Mr. Cadwallader, explained that:
He recommended that the draft plan include ideas gleaned from all stakeholders and that it be distributed in draft form to each school district and community agency prior to its being finalized. He also suggested that collaboration in this process be mandated among agencies. In addition, he stated that:
In conclusion, he stressed the need to continue the collaborative effort by practicing and reviewing the plan through rehearsals; otherwise, writing a plan will make no difference.
Ms. Radich agreed with Mr. Cadwallader and said that:
Some members voiced concern that exposing all aspects of crisis response to students, while participating in drills, might jeopardize the effectiveness of the plan. Mr. Cadwallader indicated that administrators need to exercise caution when running such drills to ensure that preparatory work done is age, grade, or situationally specific. Detailed tactical training for staff, however, can take place without students present. Being totally prepared for incidents, which might take place anywhere and at anytime, is a challenge that will require substantial forethought and the inclusion of various interests, e.g., the community, law enforcement, and schools. Preparation must be done because the safety of students is the paramount concern, he said.
Debbie Cahill, representing the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), read her prepared remarks (see Exhibit B for complete text) and explained:
Ms. Cahill also discussed the passage of Assembly Bill 521, Chapter 591, Statutes of Nevada 1999, which provides guidance to schools and staff who must deal with disruptive students. See Exhibit C for three documents: "AB 521, The New Student Discipline Law, Is your school in compliance?" (C1); "An Important Message to NSEA Members about Student Discipline," (C2); and "Building Safe and Orderly Schools" (C3), which includes a study guide and two video tapes.
Since passage of A.B. 521, the NSEA:
Some administrators, however, according to anecdotal information received from NSEA members, have been reluctant to fully enforce the new law because they are hesitant to either suspend students or confront parents. Therefore, the opportunity for underreporting disciplinary or violent incidents is substantial. She sited recent articles that reported a decrease in gun violence and physical attacks on students but an increase in physical assaults on teachers on school property; however, she wondered if those changes result from inaccurate reporting of incidents. She questioned how schools and society in general effectively curtail violence if classroom disruptions are not dealt with effectively.
Ms. Cahill said that the passage of A.B. 521 has encouraged teachers to:
Further, during 1999, the NEA joined with the American Federation of Teachers to create a training program called "Building Safe and Orderly Schools" (C3), which focuses heavily on:
Another program called "Responding to Hate at School," was produced by the Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center (see Exhibit D for this program material). This guide for school personnel includes several chapters that speak to reducing bigotry and intolerance, including:
Ms. Cahill requested that the state support intervention and prevention efforts by providing funding and guidance to districts and staff.
Following a discussion of the merits of programs such as Teaching Tolerance, Senator Wiener noted that teachers are the "first line of response" to intolerant behavior, and classroom teachers need training in how to respond to and reintegrate potentially disruptive students who are returned from alternative programs. It was suggested that a program like Teaching Tolerance be included in in-service training for teachers.
Student Representatives, Clark County School District (CCSD)
Senator Wiener noted that the testimony of student representatives would be taken out of order to allow them to return to school, as necessary.
Janine Tegano, senior and student body president of the Las Vegas Academy of International Study and the Performing and Visual Arts at Las Vegas High School, CCSD, thanked the commission for including students in this process. She noted that she served as a Nevada delegate to the "Voices Against Violence" conference held on October 19 and 20, 1999, in Washington, D.C., where more than 300 students gathered to discuss school violence issues. Ms. Tegano explained that there were opportunities, during the conference, for participants to:
In studying the CCSD Emergency Action Plan (EAP), she observed that it is comprehensive and seems to address the issues well. In her view, it is important to ensure that more students know that a plan exists. Consciences need to be raised, perhaps through a series of practices and drills. Students need to be prepared in a crisis event, whether it is an earthquake, a fire, or an incidence of school violence. Teachers and students should know how to react based on the unique circumstances and their site-based plan.
Responding to comments from the panel, Ms. Tegano said that:
Ms. Tegano also noted that the academy:
Chairman Wiener thanked Ms. Tegano for sharing her ideas and perspective.
Shannon West, Clark County Social Services manager for the Neighborhood Justice Center, which is a community mediation center for southern Nevada, explained that part of that program includes operating the CCSD mediation program. The program, funded solely through grant awards, began in 1992 under a contract with the CCSD. There are approximately 50 school mediation programs, which make up a portion of the school infrastructure, that utilize pupils to work out problems among other students.
In the participating schools, most of which are middle schools, an agreement or contract is established to provide consultant support for three years. The program is institutionalized at each site by:
Due to the receipt of additional grant money, a commitment to establish about 20 new programs has been made. The county is interested in broadening and continuing these programs and is seeking money to support that desire over the next five years.
Ms. West explained that:
Senator Wiener commented that this type of diversionary program may help to teach children to resolve their anger, recognize their conflicts, and avoid violence.
Ms. Hawkins asked what factors are involved in selecting the schools in which the program is instituted, what the attendant cost is, and if there are kinds of conflicts that are outside this mediation process. Ms. West said that the CCSD program:
Mr. Savage explained that Yerington High School is developing a peer mediation program. He asked if there were certain techniques or approaches that tend to make such programs successful at the high school level. Ms. West responded that part of the acceptance of peer mediation is how the administration uses it as a tool and how it fits into the school's infrastructure. A peer mediation program alone will not handle all the issues of concern; however, in schools where it has been successful, it has been attached to the counselors' or dean's office. Another aspect that has aided in integration is the involvement of nontraditional and traditional student leaders, who represent the various strata of the school community, to create the feeling that everyone is "buying in" to the process.
Ms. West also noted that no system exists to track the success of the program; however, some data is available on incidents in participating schools, and that can be contrasted against schools that are not participating. There appears to be a reduced number of violent events in those schools that are involved in peer mediation. That data is controversial, however. Empirical evidence is lacking. Subjective evidence offered by staff reports infers that the numbers and severity of incidents have decreased on such campuses, and some school environments have become more "comfortable" and have generated more "helper" programs, which also tends to reduce incidents. Peer mediation is not a solution. It is a piece of the overall infrastructure that creates transferable human interaction skills.
Henry Etchemendy, Executive Director, Nevada Association of School Boards (NASB), provided written testimony and other information. See Exhibit E. Reading from his prepared remarks (Exhibit E1), Mr. Etchemendy stated that:
Phil Gervasi, President, Police Officers' Association (POA), CCSD, submitted a copy of "Essentials of an Emergency Response Plan" (Exhibit F), which was prepared by the POA. Mr. Gervasi, explained that the CCSD EAP:
The Incident Command System (ICS) for emergency responders, on the other hand, is a separate plan that:
The ICS philosophy, "You must control the situation or it will control you," is recognized as the foundation for an effective, all-risk emergency planning, response, and recovery capability that involves delegation, empowerment, and management by objectives. To be effective, economy of resources must be achieved. As necessary and to the extent possible medical treatment must be obtained for victims immediately. Medical assistance obtained during the "golden hour" following injury results in the victim's greatest chance of survival.
Mr. Gervasi outlined in detail the four phases of incident management, i.e., the initial response, stabilization, maintenance, and recovery. He also explained that:
Responding to questions from the panel, Mr. Gervasi said that:
Brenda Kennedy, President, Nevada Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), provided written remarks and supporting documents (Exhibit G) that describe the role of PTA. In addition to her written testimony (see Exhibit G1 for complete text), she noted that:
In preparation for this meeting, Ms. Kennedy said she had been asked to gather information from members on the following questions (followed by the most common responses):
1. If you were writing a school emergency response plan, what would be your main areas of concern? (Evacuation procedures, student safety, communication strategies, identification of emergency personnel, and methods of parental notification.)
2. What would concern you the most as a parent should an emergency arise at your child's school? (A concern for their child's safety, how they would have access to information about the situation, and how they would contact their own child.)
3. What should be the main structure and leadership of the response plan? (The school administrator should be the commander or team leader with a core team of key support staff who have specific responsibilities; there should be coordinators for students, staff, and the media; the school district should provide guidelines for basic safety, but the site should provide for unique facility issues.)
4. What entities do you feel should collaborate in the development and implementation of the response plan? (The entire community, including teachers, support staff, counselors, parent, emergency rescue personnel, police and fire departments, utility companies and other affected businesses, mental and physical health providers and facilities, and other organizations that could assist or provide services.)
5. How prepared do you feel your child's school is in the event of an emergency? (Most felt schools are inadequately prepared, since plans have not been shared.)
6. What other considerations should be included in developing an emergency response plan? (There should be more than one plan, e.g., on-site and off-site plans for evacuation, the establishment of headquarters, continuity of communication contingencies, and so forth.)
In addition to the foregoing, parents also expressed concern about:
Ms. Kennedy noted, in conclusion, that:
Rod Jett, a Lieutenant in charge of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (Metro) SWAT team, in place of Stan Olsen, Nevada Sheriff's and Chief's Association, provided information on the procedures and policies related to incidents of school violence such as those that occurred at Columbine High School.
In his view, this is a complex problem and if such an incident were to occur in Las Vegas:
The key to avoiding such situations is, in his view, placing thorough intervention and prevention programs in place. The common denominator among perpetrators in the incidents, from Colorado to Kentucky, has been a feeling of exclusion from the school group. They have seen themselves as unpopular, not members of the "in crowd." In his view, the development of a cultural or school environment that precipitates such feelings is not a "law enforcement problem." There is a critical need for parents and teachers to recognize students who are exhibiting those feelings before something happens.
Once an incident occurs, regardless of its magnitude, law enforcement must respond. Therefore, speaking generally and on behalf of all law enforcement agencies in the community, the following concepts are important to understand:
Lieutenant Jett explained that at Columbine High School, the attackers had more than 60 explosive devices and 4 automatic weapons, with which they anticipated killing more than 200 students. In his view, the next time, the objective will be to have an even higher kill ratio. Therefore, no law enforcement organization can accurately anticipate its response or its success. The primary objective of Metro, however, will be to preserve life aggressively.
Some of the preparation that Metro has done includes attending a debriefing seminar at which a SWAT lieutenant and sergeant who were directly involved at Columbine explained that:
Again, historically, the affected schools have not been considered potential targets for violence.
Therefore, the policy of Metro is to aggressively attack the problem through various methods, including search and apprehension tactics or a negotiation approach. The motives and psychology of the perpetrators cannot be anticipated and has appeared to change over time. An "active shooter" is the term used for either a lone attacker or group of attackers who are armed and who enter a building to kill as many people as they can. The dynamic situation set in place by active shooters changes the police response required. What law enforcement planned for five years ago, is no longer effective because the perpetrators have changed their style. Therefore, law enforcement agencies have had to "adapt to overcome" based on the circumstances presented at each event.
The Green Valley High School training activity, which occurred in July 1999, was attended by SWAT teams from Henderson, Metro, North Las Vegas, and the local FBI. That group had never come together before as a law enforcement community to train for a large-scale incident. There were more than 170 active role players (many of whom were students, including some who were mentally or physically challenged) who assisted in the re-enactment of the Columbine shootings. A lot was learned from that training exercise, e.g.:
Metro has also spearheaded a series of classes to instruct local law enforcement in the process of incident command, which teaches strategies and techniques that put everyone "on the same page." That training is effective in ensuring that when these trained people come together at an incident, they are able to work in concert. Following Columbine, Metro directed each area captain of each substation to survey schools in their jurisdiction; designate locations for command posts, evacuation sites for students, and central information points for parents and the media.
Lieutenant Jett explained that details and specifics are not available for discussion, but the commission and the public can have confidence in the fact that Metro is prepared for these eventualities. In his estimation, within an hour and a half of the initiation of such an event, there will be a resolution.
Senator Wiener explained that the state emergency response plan will address not only incidents of school violence but also other crisis situations and, hopefully, the guidelines will be broad enough to encompass the bigger picture. Therefore, she questioned whether Metro has the ability to comfortably address the various types of disasters that may befall the community in a timely fashion and in a coordinated manner with other law enforcement agencies that may come into play.
Lieutenant Jett responded that, in his view and based on his 21-year experience in Las Vegas, the department has responded well to a variety of circumstances, from industrial incidents to civil disobedience and riots. All those incidents have encompassed a concern about and provision for students present on school property. Multi-jurisdictional interaction has been necessary and successful in the past, and it does not pose as big a problem as most people perceive.
Plans exist and are in place, for both the school district police and Metro, that address unusual incidents that may occur on school properties, including but not limited to: natural disasters, power failures, rioting, an aggressive presence on campus, and other less catastrophic events, which are used almost daily. There have been a variety of lock-down situations on Clark County campuses in the past, where students have not been allowed to leave their classrooms until the police have ensured their safety.
Responding to questions from the commission members, Lieutenant Jett explained:
s that are filed with local law enforcement agencies and if those cannot be located, additional copies can be provided;
Senator Wiener clarified that the commission's concept of "communication" is how it pertains to responding to the community and parents when they become aware of the incident and how it allows teachers to manage their classrooms. Based on that definition, Lieutenant Jett said:
Mr. Burns commented that law enforcement knows what to do in responding; however, an increase in these violent campus events has demonstrated a need to train school personnel about what to do, and that change should be the focus of the commission. In addition, the level of cooperation and understanding between entities should be improved.
In conclusion, Lieutenant Jett said:
DEVELOPMENT OF A STATEWIDE EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN
TO INCIDENTS OF SCHOOL VIOLENCE
Chairman Wiener explained that the goal of this portion of the meeting is to formulate the scope and direction necessary for staff to draft a state school crisis response plan that will provide guidelines and standards for the state's school districts to use to measure their own, locally specific crisis response plans. She said that the commission could follow the lead of other states to complete this process. Exhibit H includes three documents, provided by staff, which outline efforts at school crisis response planning, to which Senator Wiener referred. In her view, utilizing the work of others could be beneficial to the commission's effort. She reiterated the need to submit the draft plan to the Governor in January 2000 and to reserve the right to amend the plan as information becomes available before the commission finishes its work.
Rene Yeckley, the commission's legal staff, said an informal discussion of the topics to be considered for inclusion in the draft plan would be appropriate. Once a draft is completed, commission members will have the opportunity to approve or amend its provisions.
Following a discussion of the unique circumstances that the social and geographical characteristics of Nevada pose, Chairman Wiener and the members exchanged ideas about the following topics:
Senator Wiener suggested stepping through Exhibit H1 to see if Alaska's statutory provisions address Nevada's needs. Referring to Exhibit H, generally, members discussed the core team concept, among other things. During that process, it was suggested that:
A wide-ranging discussion of these concepts and variations that would pertain to or address the needs of Nevada's urban and rural counties followed, and key comments included:
Ms. Parnell suggested that the language in paragraph (a) of Exhibit H1 covers local planning and response at the site level and, more broadly, at the larger community or regional involvement level. The community involvement, however, should be part of the district plan. She and other members suggested language and volunteered to assist legal staff with the precise wording of that portion of the draft plan. Dialogue continued regarding the:
Jack Lazzarotto, Director of Police Services, CCSD; President of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers; and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, commended the commission on its efforts. In addition, he underscored that it is imperative to include school police officers in the role of first responders. School officers generally have an excellent relationship with Metro and other municipal and county law enforcement agencies, and they are inherently familiar with school facilities and the students themselves.
School police also provide positive role models for children, and they epitomize community-oriented policing. In addition, the specialized law enforcement units in Clark County deserve a great measure of confidence and would provide invaluable services during a catastrophic school event.
Mr. Lazzarotto explained that:
In conclusion, he reiterated the benefits that can be gained by including school police as a key part of the response where they are available as a resource.
Ken Young, CCSDPD sergeant, explained that, in his view, districtwide consistency will be a critical component in ensuring the successful implementation of plans. The first steps in response to a crisis must always be the same so that everyone knows what to expect procedurally.
Returning to the commission's discussion, Ms. Yeckley cautioned the members not to exceed the scope of the enabling legislation. Chairman Wiener explained that the draft plan would be available for review and discussion at the January 2000 meeting. Anyone wishing to offer suggestions might want to contact Ms. Yeckley directly.
Also commented upon at this juncture was the perceived need to institute or incorporate violent-event drills into the emergency exercises already in place.
Following a brief recess, Chairman Wiener explained that Ms. Yeckley had outlined the requirements of A.B. 686, which authorize the inclusion of:
Also to be investigated by staff are:
FUTURE MEETINGS AND DIRECTIONS TO STAFF
Chairman Wiener asked the members to be prepared to review the draft plan prior to the next meeting, which is scheduled for January 5, 2000. She thanked everyone for their attention and input into this process and assured them that there would be an opportunity to "fine tune" the provisions of the plan before it is sent to the Governor.
Exhibit I is the "Attendance Record" for this meeting.
There being no further business to come before the commission, the meeting was adjourned at 3:25 p.m.
Linda Chandler Law
Senior Research Secretary
Juliann K. Jenson
Senior Research Analyst
Senator Valerie Wiener, Chair
Exhibit A is the written testimony of Ralph Cadwallader, Executive Director, Nevada Association of School Administrators.
Exhibit B is the written testimony of Debbie Cahill, representing the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA).
Exhibit C includes three documents: "AB 521, The New Student Discipline Law, Is your school in compliance?" (C1); "An Important Message to NSEA Members about Student Discipline" (C2); and "Building Safe and Orderly Schools" (C3), which includes a study guide and two video tapes, submitted by Ms. Cahill.
Exhibit D includes program material titled "Responding to Hate at School," produced by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which was also submitted by Ms. Cahill.
Exhibit E includes written testimony (E1), submitted by Henry Etchemendy, Executive Director, Nevada Association of School Boards, together with a copy of the Washoe County School District "School Violence-Prevention, Planning and Response" plan (E2).
Exhibit F is a copy of "Essentials of an Emergency Response Plan," provided by Phil Gervasi, President, Police Officers' Association, Clark County School District.
Exhibit G includes the written remarks of Brenda Kennedy, President, Nevada Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) (G1), and supporting documents that describe the role of PTA (G2).
Exhibit H includes three documents referred to by Senator Valerie Wiener, Alaska's statutory provisions, Section 14.33.100, "Required school crisis response planning" and "Making School Crisis Response Planning Work" (H1), by Joseph A. Kinney, M.P.A., excerpted from Association of Alaska School Boards - Commentary; and "Early Warning, Timely Response, A Guide to Safe Schools" (H2), all of which were provided by staff.
Exhibit I is the "Attendance Record" for this meeting.
Copies of the materials distributed in the meeting are on file in the Research Library of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, Carson City, Nevada. You may contact the library at (775) 684-6827.