Morris County Schools Amplify Safety Protocols for 2023-2024 Year


Renewed focus on student safety includes threat assessment teams, digital blueprints, and extensive training initiatives.

Morristown, NJ – As the 2023-2024 academic year kicks off, Morris County educators and New Jersey officials remain unwavering in their commitment to student safety. With comprehensive plans in place, the objective is to ensure that the school environment remains both conducive to learning and safe for all.

Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, the Acting Commissioner of Education, emphasized the ongoing collaborative efforts, stating, “The safety of our students is a top priority for our Department... Our partnership with local school districts helps us ensure New Jersey students are able to attend school in a safe and secure learning environment.”

An initiative championed by Governor Phil Murphy in the preceding year requires the establishment of threat assessment teams in each school.

The role of these multidisciplinary teams is threefold: to spot students posing potential safety issues, evaluate their risk, and implement intervention strategies. Each team is composed of a mix of school administrators, safety specialists, teaching staff, mental health professionals, and law enforcement liaisons.

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has taken a hands-on approach, having already trained over 10,000 K-12 school staff assigned to these teams during the summer.

To bolster law enforcement's rapid response capabilities, the NJDOE, in tandem with the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, is digitizing building blueprints of all K-12 schools.

This initiative, initiated by legislation from Governor Murphy and backed by federal and state funding totaling $11.9 million, ensures that first responders have accurate layouts during emergencies.

Additionally, the NJDOE has achieved the following in its quest for safer schools:

  • Almost 300 staff members were trained and certified in the NJDOE’s School Safety Specialist Academy in 2023, bringing the total number of trained specialists since 2018 to 1,500.
  • A collaboration with Sandy Hook Promise has been ongoing since 2018, introducing evidence-based violence prevention programs in 68 schools across New Jersey, benefiting thousands of students and staff.
  • The Invent2Prevent program encourages high-school students nationwide to design projects aimed at deterring violence. Notably, this year, New Jersey schools bagged all top three spots in an annual competition in Washington, D.C.
  • The NJDOE conducted 1,800 observations of active shooter drills over the past six academic years.
  • In 2023 alone, the Department facilitated 55 training sessions on diverse aspects of school safety for around 9,500 staff and provided on-site support through 118 field visits.

This multi-pronged strategy not only emphasizes safety infrastructure but also promotes a culture of awareness and preparedness, aiming to create educational safe havens for students across Morris County and the state of New Jersey.

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