Florida Enters Third Year of School Safety Assessment Program

By John Boatman, July 17, 2017 | SHARE

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) has announced the start of its annual school district safety and security assessment process. This is the third year FLDOE is deploying the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool (FSSAT), a secure online environment for conducting district and school safety assessments state-wide.

Under Florida state law, each school district in the state is required to conduct an annual self assessment of its safety and security programs. Based on the self-assessment findings, superintendents are to provide recommendations to their school boards that identify strategies and activities the district should implement to improve school safety and security.

FSSAT enables users to complete detailed assessment reports on each of the state’s 67 school districts, as well as separate assessments on all 6,000-plus public and charter schools in the state. FSSAT is accessible to authorized users from FLDOE, security directors and school administrators and their law enforcement and emergency management partners via secure online portal.

Haystax Technology developed FSSAT in collaboration with FLDOE in response to a 2013 budget requirement from Florida’s state legislature to “help school officials identify threats, vulnerabilities and appropriate safety controls for the schools that they supervise.” A key requirement was the added capability to generate automated reports on safety assessment findings for each district, as well as a single aggregated ‘rollup’ report compiling all district data in one state-level document.

Among the specific issues addressed in this year’s district self assessment are school health and safety planning, discipline policies, safety programs, professional training requirements and school-community collaboration on safety.

The separate asset assessments are tailored to individual K-12 schools, and are designed to record critical information on the school’s physical layout, security procedures and personnel, collaborative relationships with local public safety agencies and much more. The goal is to provide school and district security directors with the ongoing ability to assess, over time, safety and security improvements as well as areas requiring further attention. And as with the district assessments, automated assessment reports can be generated for each school.

FSSAT is based on Haystax Technology’s Constellation Analytics Platform™, a secure online environment for domain awareness, threat assessment and incident management. In addition to using the assessment tool, FLDOE is also able to store critical information on each K-12 campus, including school emergency plans, blueprints, contact details and photos, so that those responsible for the safety of Florida’s schools have a single source when they need to rapidly access data on a particular school.

“We are honored and excited to enter our third year of working with the Florida Department of Education on this important statewide school safety initiative,” said Haystax Technology CEO Bryan Ware. “Our system is designed to highlight the individual safety and security issues facing each school, as well as to enable district and state officials to develop a broader understanding of, and effective responses to, the threats and risks confronting all schools in their areas of responsibility.”