School Safety Plan
The California Board of Education recognizes that a first step toward safer schools is the development of a comprehensive plan for school safety (see California Education Code Section 35294.1 et seq.). Effective school safety plans are developed cooperatively by parents (guardians), students, teachers, administrators, counselors and community agencies, including local law enforcement. The local school district governing board approves school safety plans.
School safety plans can be used as a forum to discuss strategies to improve the physical environment around a school site, including routes commonly used by students. School safety plans can require walking audits to identify hazards and barriers to safe active transportation.
The California Board of Education requires local school safety plans include:
- A district-wide statement of philosophy, an enabling policy, and guidelines that serve as a foundation for school safety plans created by individual schools. The statement of philosophy should provide a clear sense of purpose and exemplify district support for the entire planning process.
- Objectives and strategies to improve school safety.
- A description of the roles and responsibilities of faculty and staff in developing cooperative working relationships with law enforcement agencies, service agencies, parents (guardians), and students to assure the implementation and continuing progress of the comprehensive plan.
Effective school safety plans use existing data to target problem areas. Schools can get information on local traffic accident data using the Transportation Injury Mapping System. In addition, schools can contact the local public works department to obtain information on average vehicle speeds; information that helps determine which streets may benefit from traffic calming measures.
As part of its Safe Routes to School Plan, the City of Santa Clarita conducts walking audits of traffic safety issues, including traffic safety concerns (speeding cars), walking concerns (lack of crosswalks) and bicycling issues (presence of bicycle racks). These issues are documented and potential solutions are summarized into a draft safety plan.
Related concept: “Crime prevention through environmental design” is a multi-disciplinary approach to reducing crime through safety improvements to the built environment (for example pedestrian lighting, visibility at bus stops, etc.). Use of this concept in planning documents can help improve safety for pedestrians and improve parent confidence in the safety of their children walking to school.