An official from the Idaho Department of Education (DOE) is presenting at an international school safety summit Thursday and Friday. The state's Safe and Drug-Free Schools coordinator, Matt McCarter, will be sharing the successes of the Idaho public school systems in preparing schools for crisis.
McCarter's travel and stay in Denver is paid for by the conference, according to the department's spokesperson, Melissa McGrath. The department is contributing nothing to the expenses McCarter incurs during his stay.
The invitation came to the state due to the department's efforts to implement strategic safety plans for schools in 2007. During that year, the department conducted the Safe and Secure Schools Assessment to evaluate the readiness of local schools in the event of emergencies. From that study, officials found that schools needed technical help in developing safety plans. From there, the department created a template crisis readiness plan, based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which was distributed to schools. In conjunction with the findings of the assessment, the state also provided training to local officials on securing schools.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna believes school safety is critical for the educational development of students. “For our children to truly be free to learn, they must be free from fear, intimidation and violence,” he said. “We don’t ever want to look back and wonder if we could have done more.” The head of the safety summit, Michael Dorn, praised Idaho's efforts to keep students safe. “I am deeply impressed with the level of NIMS integration into Idaho's K-20 educational organization. That provides the strongest possible foundation for coordinating plans, people, systems, and equipment to handle major school crisis events.”