Making DC schools safer: My testimony to the Council of the District of Columbia on Education

Good morning, My name is Joshua Milsapps and I am a Senior Partner at Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates. Over the past several years I have been involved in the safety and security assessment of more than 200 schools in 23 states. Over the course of this time I have become convinced that as a country we are generally missing the opportunity to make data driven decisions about safety and security despite the rise in the use of information to support all most every other aspect of our nation’s education and measure academic performance.

This lack of information persists despite the widely held belief that safer schools are higher performing schools. In the course of my experience over the last several years I have developed a bank of more than 500 questions covering safety and security as it pertains to schools and other facilities. These have been vetted by a diverse set of security experts and informed by best practice, research and concepts like Crime Prevention through Environmental Design or (CPTED).

Our questions cover everything from the general to the very school specific Administrative, Access Control, Lighting, Construction and Renovation, Site Stakeholders, Life and Safety, Power, Emergency Plans, Mail Handling, Parking, Fencing, Standoff, Roadway Control, Visitor Control, Inspection Policies and Procedures, Security Background Checks, Law Enforcement, Facility Security, Locks, Gymnasiums, and Cafeterias

For schools this doesn’t just have to be about security and once in place the assessment capability can be used to support facilities inspections on mobile devices, accident reporting, attendance, or other areas where schools need to regularly handle data in a consistent manner in order to drive repeatable processes and decision making.

We have also developed a technology based on the Salesforce.com platform in order to provide a service that can securely, deliver and manage this assessment that would be capable of scaling to handle every school in the nation. Doing it on this scale has enabled us to offer the base 229 question assessment recently used by Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, for somewhere around 36 cents per student per year for Washington, D.C.

The approach we took in Loudoun County illustrates the value of asking standardized questions that reflect security and safety best practices across the entire portfolio of schools. The information we collected enabled us to identify opportunities for improvement, but the technology can do much more including enabling the security and safety organization address issues in real time, collaborate to understand emerging issues, execute workflows and share best practices.

I have brought a sample copy of what an analysis of a fictional school district might look like and I invite anyone interested in understanding the operational aspects of the technology and how it supports safer schools everyday to join me on a webinar this Friday the 25th of October at 2PM, details of which are in the printed copy of the sample analysis provided to this committee, details can also be found at www.exam4schools.com, or by contacting me at 703-OUTCOME or at [email protected]

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