The fourth 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 Wednesday, January 5, 2000, commencing at 9:30 a.m. The meeting was held in
Room 3138 of the Legislative Building, 401 South Carson Street, Carson City, Nevada, and
videoconferenced to Room 4401, Grant Sawyer State Office Building, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pages 2 and 3 contain the "Meeting Notice and Agenda" for this meeting.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT IN CARSON CITY:
Senator Valerie Wiener, Chairman
Michael E. Johnson, Parent, Vice Chairman
Assemblywoman Bonnie L. Parnell
Barbara Baxter, Teacher, Sparks High School
Annie Rees, Parent, Owner of Annie's Bail Bonds
Keith Savage, Principal, Yerington High School
Vince Swinney, Representative of Law Enforcement
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT IN LAS VEGAS:
Tom Burns, Representative of Law Enforcement
Pamela Hawkins, Principal, Western High School
M. Kim Radich, Teacher, O'Callaghan Middle School
COMMISSION MEMBERS EXCUSED:
Marcia R. Bandera, Superintendent, Elko County School District
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL BUREAU STAFF PRESENT IN CARSON CITY:
Juliann K. Jenson, Senior Research Analyst
R. Rene Yeckley, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel
Leslie Hamner, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel
Linda Chandler Law, Senior Research Secretary
Name of Organization: Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence
(Assembly Bill 686, Chapter 607, Statutes of Nevada 1999)
Date and Time of Meeting: Wednesday, January 5, 2000
Place of Meeting: Legislative Building
401 South Carson Street
Carson City, 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:
Grant Sawyer State Office Building
555 East Washington Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada
I. Opening Remarks by the Chair and Introductions
Senator Valerie Wiener
*II. Approval of the Minutes from the November 9, 1999, and December 2, 1999, Meetings
III. Report on Conference Sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures: Legislative Responses to Youth Violence
Senator Valerie Wiener
IV. Status Report on Progress of the Subcommittee to Study the System of Juvenile Justice in Nevada (Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 13)
Senator Valerie Wiener
*V. Discussion and Approval of Statewide Plan of Emergency Response to Incidents of School Violence
*VI. Review of Model Prevention and Intervention Programs to Reduce the Incidents of School Violence
Juliann K. Jenson, Senior Research Analyst, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau
VII. Public Comment
*VIII. Discussion of Future Meeting Dates and Topics
*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
Senator Valerie Wiener called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. Roll was called and a quorum was present.
MR. JOHNSON MOVED TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS HELD ON NOVEMBER 9, 1999, IN RENO, AND ON DECEMBER 2, 1999, IN LAS VEGAS. MR. SAVAGE SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Senator Valerie Wiener explained that she, along with Senators Lawrence E. Jacobsen and Joseph M. Neal Jr., and Assemblyman John C. Carpenter, attended a NCSL conference regarding youth violence, on December 10, 1999, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At that meeting, which 50 state representatives attended, the topics discussed were:
Chairman Wiener noted that she would provide information collected at the conference to the appropriate divisions of the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB).
Also at the conference, Senator Wiener contacted a NCSL representative who has expertise in intervention and prevention methods. This topic will be discussed during the next stage of the commission's meetings. Staff is working to arrange a presentation by Ms. Julie Thomerson at a future meeting.
STATUS REPORT ON PROGRESS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE TO
STUDY THE SYSTEM OF JUVENILE JUSTICE IN NEVADA
(ASSEMBLY CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 13)
Senator Wiener reported that during the 1997 Legislative Session, Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 57 (File No. 152, Statutes of Nevada 1997) created the first interim study subcommittee on juvenile justice, but it was anticipated that a second interim period would be needed to complete the subcommittee's work. Therefore, the goal of the first interim was to set a direction for the second study committee, which was authorized by Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 13 (File No. 139, Statutes of Nevada 1999). She described the makeup of the subcommittee and said that it had met on November 4, 1999, and on December 9, 1999.
The subcommittee's mission, carried over from the initial subcommittee, is to study and develop immediate, two-year and ten-year plans for developing juvenile justice policy and avoid "band-aid legislation." Dr. Buddy Howell, a nationally known expert in the field, assisted the subcommittee in determining existing Nevada policy by developing a system to obtain status reports from all state agencies and related commissions that are involved with juvenile justice issues. When that process is completed, the subcommittee will seek the assistance of NCSL in establishing a comprehensive policy strategy for Nevada.
Some of the issues that have been addressed and status reports that have been received by the subcommittee this interim include:
The subcommittee will continue to work to develop the comprehensive plan.
Chairman Wiener thanked staff for its work on the draft document titled "Statewide Plan of Emergency Response to Incidents of School Violence -- Proposed by the Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence" (see Exhibit A that includes a cover memorandum dated December 29, 1999, from R. Rene Yeckley, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel, to the members of the commission), which was presented for discussion. She also noted that a significant amount of time has been invested in the draft based on testimony and information received during prior meetings. The draft was put into bill draft request (BDR) form to:
Ms. Yeckley provided an overview of the draft proposal, noting that she; Leslie Hamner, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel; Senator Wiener; Michael Fitzgerald with Nevada's Department of Education; and Jim Walker of the Division of Emergency Management, Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety (DMV&PS), had worked closely to review information from previous meetings and incorporate that into this first draft.
The three major components of the draft plan include:
The actual language of the BDR begins on page 4 of Exhibit A.
She also noted that NRS 414.135 may also provide money for training of school employees as provided in other portions of the plan.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell questioned whether a representative of the State Board of Education had been included in this process. Ms. Yeckley noted that the board had referred her to Mr. Fitzgerald for this project.
Michael Fitzgerald, Education Consultant, Nevada's Department of Education, stated that he had contacted Mary L. Peterson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Nevada's Department of Education, to review the draft and receive her input and direction. He thanked the commission for their efforts in making Nevada's schools safe. The comments he would offer, which address intent, are:
Senator Wiener stated that, in her view, the site plans would go to the districts to ensure compliance, and the 17 districts' plans would go to the state board.
Ms. Yeckley noted that this legislation applies only to kindergarten through twelfth grade. It does not encompass private day care centers, preschool programs, or home-school students.
Jim Walker, Planning, Training, Exercise, and Mitigation Supervisor, Nevada's Division of Emergency Management, commended the staff on its drafting of the plan and the commission on its efforts. He explained that:
Chairman Wiener noted that many of the concerns expressed at past meetings have been resolved during the drafting of the plan. The purpose of the commission was not to reinvent the wheel, but to utilize existing services and agencies.
Mr. Walker explained that the division has a staff of about 15 employees; however, about 4 are administrative, and the remainder is directly involved in the coordination and support of emergency management programs through other state agencies and resources. In an incident of school violence that support function would probably defer to the state's law enforcement personnel, including the Nevada Highway Patrol Division and the Investigation Division of the DMV&PS, because they have the expertise to deal with such situations.
Senator Wiener reiterated that another goal of the commission is to retain as much local control as possible, while bringing in expertise as needed.
A brief discussion followed regarding the procedures that would be followed by a district that might want to qualify for funding after a violent incident.
The Chairman led the members through the draft in a work session format, section by section, beginning with Section 6, on page 4 of Exhibit A. There were no questions on subsection 1 or 2.
Assemblywoman Parnell questioned whether, in Section 6, subsection 3, it should be made clear that the school should not be the place for people in the community to gather. Ms. Baxter said that, in her view, paragraph (d) would provide that latitude, and so long as the person assigned to communicate with the outside emphasized that rushing to the school would have an adverse effect. Chairman Wiener stated that communicating with the community should be flexible and left up to the on-site people, based on circumstances. Mr. Burns added that, in such instances, a school usually would be coordinating its efforts with local law enforcement, and they need to have parallel policies and procedures in place. Ms. Baxter noted that school police also need to be integrated into those efforts.
Discussion followed regarding the need to use common sense and avoid "turf battles" between school administration and law enforcement, and regarding the need to keep response and police plans secure.
Stan Olsen, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro), clarified that Metro, and most other police departments, will not share tactical plans with this commission or with schools. Those plans are kept confidential for many reasons. Senator Wiener noted that Lieutenant Rod Jett of Metro, who spoke at a previous meeting, had stated that emphatically.
Captain Jim Nadeau, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, said that although school police would be involved in any incident on school grounds, local law enforcement must take charge so that an adequate response force can be allocated. The goal, however, should be cooperation so that those involved are not working against one another. Chairman Wiener assured Mr. Nadeau that law enforcement agencies would be provided copies of the final state plan.
Chairman Wiener led a discussion of the definition of "crisis" using Mr. Fitzgerald's suggested language.
Mr. Johnson offered a slightly changed version (see Exhibit D for his suggestion). Discussion regarding the definition continued. Ms. Yeckley, based on the previous discussion, proposed the following definition of crisis (see Exhibit E):
"Crisis" means a traumatic and sudden event or emergency condition that:
1. Involves violence;
2. Profoundly and negatively affects a school population;
3. Occurs on the property of a school, at an activity sponsored by a school or on a school bus while the bus is engaged in its official duties; and
4. May involve serious injury or death.
No one questioned the clarity or accuracy of this definition and the commission proceeded.
Mr. Olsen underscored the need to have district-level response plans, and that school-site evacuation plans should follow that plan, noting any site-specific exceptions to the district plan. The primary law enforcement agencies that deal with the district should be closely involved in the development of the district's plan. If a crime emergency is involved, the local law enforcement agency will be in command; and law enforcement must have a working agreement among themselves in addition to the working relationship with the affected school. Rancho High School, which is located on the border between the jurisdictions of Metro and the North Las Vegas Police Department, has had occasion to call in both agencies. Therefore, if the planning committee at the district level includes law enforcement representatives, then the actual local evacuation plans that are based on the configuration of each school can be designed and reported to the district.
Captain Nadeau noted that Washoe County has plans in place that have been the subject of practice training. In areas such as Clark and Washoe Counties, which are experiencing population growth and land annexation, the use of a district-wide plan has inherent benefits. Regardless of the agency primarily responsible for responding to a specific school site, everyone is able to "work under the same game plan and rules." That will make any response more simple.
Mr. Olsen noted that the more consistent response plans are kept, the more prepared police can be. When officers move from area to area, becoming familiar with different plans for each school would be impossible. Mr. Nadeau noted that the same problem would be faced by substitute teachers who move from school to school. Consistency in reporting and response is a benefit.
Debbie Cahill, Nevada State Education Association, explained that there is some validity in retaining a site committee to review the district plan, determine how that plan will be communicated to school personnel, and to ascertain whether deviations from the district are required to accommodate the specific requirements of that school site or its community. In that way the district and law enforcement would use the information provided by the site committee to be aware of unique needs.
In her view, this issue is of such importance that it deserves to be dealt with thoroughly.
Chairman Wiener also pointed out that the site committee would be an effective vehicle to use to ensure that the school is in compliance with the plan and posting requirements. She noted that legal staff will continue working on this portion of the plan, based on discussions during this meeting.
Ms. Baxter explained that, to her knowledge, Washoe County utilizes a relatively small number of building layouts in many of its schools. Recognizing that similarity in facilities might help to reduce the number of exceptional response options that might be needed.
Ms. Hawkins said that she senses much of this process "reinvents the wheel." In her view, many schools and law enforcement agencies already have response plans in place that do exactly what is being discussed here. She questioned whether staff had thoroughly reviewed existing documents and guidelines. Senator Wiener noted that the legislative charge was clear; that a statewide plan was to be developed to ensure consistency in times of emergency response on school campuses. A general discussion followed. Ms. Hawkins, in conclusion, said that any administrator will find it difficult to sit before a committee and try to anticipate what will be required during a violent incident because the response in each instance will be unique to the situation.
Following an exchange regarding duties and responsibilities at the site and district levels, Chairman Wiener noted that planning generally should be done by the district and implementation at the site.
Ms. Cahill noted that the site committee should represent the stakeholders in that school's community, and should review the district plan as it applies to the site and note any deviations or exceptions. Whatever exceptions are identified should be communicated to the district and to law enforcement so that everyone is aware of special circumstances at the site. Then the on-site committee should post notice that the district plan has been reviewed to assure school personnel and the public that information is current. A discussion followed regarding the makeup of the site committee.
Mr. Fitzgerald said that the value of the school site committee lies in its making the district plan "real" for that particular school and environment because it will recognize peculiarities in public address systems, facilities, and so forth. Chairman Wiener and Mr. Nadeau concurred.
In summary, at the request of Ms. Yeckley, Senator Wiener said that the on-site and district plans are not necessarily in conflict. She clarified that:
In addition, local law enforcement will be represented on the school district team. The people cited in the draft, together with an additional support staff person, will comprise the basic site committee, and flexibility will be provided for.
Steve Mulvenon, Director of Communications, Washoe County School District (WCSD), explained that:
Ms. Yeckley suggested that the commission leave the composition of the district team open to direction from the district's board of trustees or governing body, especially if it has already created a plan. Senator Wiener concurred; however, she reiterated the need to ensure that law enforcement, the superintendent, and various bargaining units are identified participants at the district level, in a form similar to that used in school accountability statutes.
Ms. Jenson noted that she solicited copies of existing district plans when the commission was formed. Some of those plans were quite sophisticated and some were drafted in the 1980s and had never been updated. Some districts had no plans. Ms. Jenson explained:
Following further dialogue, Senator Wiener suggested that the district team would mandatorily include a member of the school district administration, teachers, support staff, law enforcement, and a parent. Then the language should allow others in addition to those who are mandated.
Senator Wiener asked if members had questions regarding Section 7 on page 5. It was noted that:
Ms. Yeckley, referring the members to Exhibit B, noted that there is a provision in NRS 414.130, "Appropriations; acceptance of services, gifts, grants and loans," for the Division of Emergency Management to receive gifts, grants, and donations that may be made for emergency management by either the Federal Government or private persons or corporations. Another source referred to in that exhibit is in NRS 414.135, "Emergency assistance account: Creation; administration by division of emergency management; expenditures; report; regulations," which refers to the Emergency Assistance Account within the Disaster Relief Fund, that can be used to cover costs incurred by local governments during a time of crisis if they had insufficient resources to pay obligations. In subsection 4 of NRS 414.135, there is also a provision for the funding of training.
Senator Wiener also noted that Cheri Lovre had mentioned during the November 9, 1999, meeting of the commission that some funds for training might be solicited from insurance companies, who have a vested interest in reducing liability by deflecting incidents of school violence.
There were no questions relative to Section 7, subsection 2 (a) through (c) or Section 8, subsections 1 and 2. Ms. Yeckley noted, however, that 8(b) would need to recognize site plans with deviations.
Mike Fitzgerald, responding to a concern voiced by Ms. Parnell, explained that the State Board of Education neither writes plans nor drafts regulations, those duties are carried out through staff. If Nevada's Department of Education or a local district does not write the regulation or whatever is required, then the State Board of Education has the ability by its oversight to ensure that it is completed. The wording is similar to other statutes, however, and the Department of Education, in a sense, acts as staff to the board to carry out these functions.
Ms. Yeckley indicated that she would work with Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Wilson, and other agencies to facilitate drafting the wording for the district level to eliminate any conflicts. Chairman Wiener said that there needs to be some coordination between how the state board would act in response to the development of district and local plans. In part, the statewide plan would be in response to how those district plans unfolded. Mr. Fitzgerald concurred.
Ms. Parnell noted that Part B requires the state board to develop a state plan "for the management" of emergencies. Therefore, this is only an "umbrella" for the management of the emergency, and perhaps it could work with the Division of Emergency Management to ensure logistical success.
Ms. Yeckley explained what was discussed during previous meetings with Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Walker, and noted that:
That is why the BDR was worded in a way that would put primary responsibility for the plan on the State Board of Education. Senator Wiener also explained that the division was brought in early to effect that "marriage" of purpose. Mr. Fitzgerald added that one of the important determinations will be to ensure the "doability" of the needs assessment aspect of developing the district plans.
The commission has a duty to submit its draft plan to Nevada's Department of Education and the Governor, representing the executive branch, and then to the superintendents so they can develop district plans. The commission will then submit the BDR for legislative consideration of the emergency response plan. Therefore, those stakeholders who have vested interests in the legislative outcome of the process will have ample opportunity during the 2001 Legislative Session to provide additional input and testimony and help refine the plan.
Regarding Section 5 on page 7 of the draft, Chairman Wiener noted that language should be added to allow "designees" to perform some functions. She noted that the ultimate impact on communities, as cited in subsection 3, is unknowable until an incident occurs; however, it is now known that communities and schools will need to be involved with the division for training and planning purposes.
Part C of the BDR language adds incidents of school violence to NRS 353.271, "'Disaster' defined"; NRS 353.274, "Authorized grants to state agencies"; and NRS 353.2745, "Authorized grants to local governments."
Phil Gervasi, Clark County School District Police Department and representative for the Police Officers' Association, briefly discussed the need to expand reporting of violent incidents that occur on school property prior to large-scale incidents. He provided an excerpt from Chapter 432B, "Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect," that he volunteered to participate in amending to address that need.
Chairman Wiener asked Ms. Yeckley to review those areas of the draft plan that might be questionable or unclear.
Ms. Yeckley said it was her understanding that the following provisions would be redrafted:
Following a discussion on district versus site committee responsibilities, Ms. Yeckley continued and further explained:
MR. SWINNEY MOVED TO AUTHORIZE STAFF TO AMEND THE DRAFT STATEWIDE PLAN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING REVIEW. MR. JOHNSON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY. (MS. BAXTER WAS NOT PRESENT FOR THIS VOTE.)
Senator Wiener said that the next step would be for the draft, changed as indicated, to go to the Governor, Nevada's Department of Education, and the Division of Emergency Management.
Mr. Johnson thanked staff for its efforts in drafting the working document and for the background and support it has provided during the process thus far.
Mr. Burns requested that the revised draft be forwarded to the members as quickly as possible. Chairman Wiener assured the members that would occur.
Juliann K. Jenson, Senior Research Analyst, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau, referred to her memorandum dated January 3, 2000, to the chairwoman and members of the commission, titled "Prevention and Intervention Programs - School Safety and Juvenile Violence" (see Exhibit G). Ms. Jenson provided a brief overview of the prevention and intervention programs, background, selected criteria, and data outlined in the memorandum and requested the members to examine those programs and become familiar with what is being done nationally.
David F. Bash, III
David F. Bash, III, speaking from Las Vegas, noted that in addition to those mentioned by Ms. Jenson, there are other programs nationally and in Las Vegas that are showing promise to reduce school violence and youth problems in general. Work has been done regarding juvenile delinquency in a model program called "Communities that Care." Efforts have been made to identify risk and protective factors that enable some children, faced with the same situations, to avoid trouble.
According to Mr. Bash, that research has been expanded upon by a nonprofit organization, the Search Foundation, that has identified 40 developmental assets or characteristics that youngsters need to succeed in our society. The more of those characteristics a child has when he or she reaches adulthood, the more apt they are to avoid the problems faced by those who have fewer of those assets. In addition, that asset model is the subject of further research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Mr. Bash submitted information to the commission, titled "The Asset Approach -- giving kids what they need to succeed."
He suggested that the commission explore this concept at future meetings.
Chairman Wiener stated that the next meeting will be held in a rural area of Nevada. Pahrump was identified as the meeting site and the date was set for March 7, 2000, at 10 a.m. Ms. Jenson was asked to invite a representative of NCSL to address the commission at that meeting. The meeting will not be videoconferenced.
There being no further business to come before the commission, the meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m.
Linda Chandler Law
Senior Research Secretary
Juliann K. Jenson
Senior Research Analyst
Senator Valerie Wiener, Chairman
Exhibit A is a draft document, titled "Statewide Plan of Emergency Response to Incidents of School Violence -- Proposed by the Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence." This exhibit also includes a cover memorandum, dated December 29, 1999, from R. Rene Yeckley, Senior Deputy Legislative Counsel, to the members of the commission.
Exhibit B is a copy of Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 414.135, "Emergency assistance account: Creation; administration by division of emergency management; expenditures; report; regulations," also provided by Ms. Yeckley.
Exhibit C includes sample language, based on the definition of "crisis" in Virginia state law, proposed by Michael Fitzgerald, Education Consultant, Nevada's Department of Education.
Exhibit D is a definition of "crisis," which was suggested by Michael Johnson.
Exhibit E is a copy of the language defining "crisis" proposed by Ms. Yeckley.
Exhibit F is an excerpt from Chapter 432B, "Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect," of NRS submitted by Phil Gervasi, Clark County School District Police Department and representative of the Police Officers' Association.
Exhibit G is a memorandum dated January 3, 2000, to Chairwoman Valerie Wiener and Members of the Commission on School Safety and Juvenile Violence, from Juliann K. Jenson, Senior Research Analyst, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau, titled "Prevention and Intervention Programs - School Safety and Juvenile Violence."
Exhibit H is a handout, titled "The Asset Approach -- giving kids what they need to succeed," submitted by Mr. David F. Bash, III.
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.