Information on a wide variety of school safety topics which will provide schools with resources to maximize school safety and security.
Guidance for Parents - What to do if your child is being bullied?
1. Listen to your child.
If your child tells you about being bullied, listen calmly and offer comfort and support. Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it's happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.
2. Coach your child on how to react.
It’s important to teach your child how to react. Engage in role play with your child on how to react to a bullying incident. Inform your child to avoid the bully if possible, hold in their anger, and to act brave and walk away. Most importantly, inform your child to tell an adult.
3. Intervene immediately by reporting bullying to the school.
It is important to support and advocate for your child during an alleged bullying incident. Request the district’s bullying policy to identify the best way to report the incident. Get the facts. When submitting the bullying report include as much detail as possible (timeline, what happened, who was involved, witnesses to the incident, etc.). Contact your child’s teacher, school counselor, or principal. If needed, you may also contact the district superintendent or the school board president. Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the help of adults. When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it is not acceptable.
4. Get support for your child.
Bullying can have lasting effects for victims, perpetrators, and bystanders into adulthood. Assure your child that the bullying is not their fault. Provide your child with a safe and positive home environment. If necessary, seek professional help from community mental health providers to support your child.
According to North Dakota Century Code 15.1-19-18, all North Dakota school districts are required to adopt a bullying policy, to ensure that the policy is explained to and discussed with its students, and make that policy available in student and personnel handbooks.
- Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
- Separate the kids involved.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
- Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Don’t ignore it. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help.
- Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.
- Don’t force other kids to say publicly what they saw.
- Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.
- Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
- Don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.
North Dakota School Bullying Policy Legislation
During the 2019 North Dakota legislative session, SB 2181 was passed which expanded the definition of bullying set forth in North Dakota Century Code 15.1-19-17 to include cyberbullying occurring off school property. As of August 1, 2019, all school districts must make the required changes to their bullying policy in compliance with the new law and file their revised policy with the Department of Public Instruction.
A school district shall: a) ensure that the policy is explained to and discussed with its students; b) file a copy with the Superintendent of Public Instruction (DPI) and amendments filed with DPI; and c) make the policy available in student and personnel handbooks.
- Guidance on New Cyberbullying Law - North Dakota School Boards Association
Each North Dakota public and nonpublic school shall conduct fire, tornado, and other emergency or disaster drills, including lockdown drills. ND Century Code 15.1-06-12
Fire Drills in Schools
The International Fire Code (IFC) Section 405.1 First emergency evacuation drill states: The first emergency evacuation drill of each school year shall be conducted within 10 days of the beginning of classes. The ND Office of Attorney General, Fire Marshal Division, clarifies the IFC 2015 Edition, Chapter 4 requirements for fire and evacuation drills: A minimum of at least four (4) dedicated fire drills must be conducted annually. The ND State Fire Marshall may be contacted at (701) 328-5555 for further clarification or questions.
The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction defined persistently dangerous schools and criteria for identification and guidance for student victims of criminal offenses with the expertise of statewide school administrators and partners as required by law in September 2017.
School climate includes those critical common elements that influence student outcomes by establishing norms and expectations for behavior which create a positive culture for learning and academic growth. School climate refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students', parents' and school personnel's experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. How students feel about being in school shapes learning and student development. Peer-reviewed educational research consistently demonstrates that a positive school climate is associated with academic achievement, effective risk prevention efforts and positive youth development.
School and classroom climate assessments address three overarching conceptual dimensions: relationships, personal growth and system maintenance and change; assessments can include formal or informal assessments or student and parent focus groups. Attention to school climate – physical, social and academic dimensions - result in improved student behavioral and emotional functioning (school connectedness, social and emotional learning) and, in turn, increase academic motivation and achievement.
Popular assessments of school climate include:
The Department of Public Instruction’s vision is to foster the social, emotional, and academic wellbeing of our youth. Children need to have a sense of belonging, know they are cared about, and that they are safe. Each day, our schools are entrusted to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our school students in public and nonpublic schools. Families and communities expect schools to keep their children and youths from threats and hazards. In collaboration with their local government and community partners, schools must take steps to plan for these potential emergencies through the creation of a comprehensive school emergency operations plan.
If any local school district wishes to have an Emergency Operations Planning onsite assessment, they may contact North Dakota Safety Council at (701) 223-6372 or (800) 932-8890 or for a Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment, using an "all hazards" approach, contact either North Dakota Emergency Services at (701) 328-8165 or the North Dakota Protective Security Advisor at the US Department of Homeland Security at (701) 516-3940.
- Emergency Operations Plan Template from Cass-Clay Unified
- Cass-Clay Unified School Response Resources
- Emergency Management Virtual Toolkit
- Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans: At A Glance
- REMS Emergency Management Resources
- US Department of Education - Crisis Planning
The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction supports the critical role that School Resource Officers (SROs) have with many schools across the state. The ND SRO Association was developed in 2016 as a state member of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), the world’s leader in school-based policing. NDASRO is made up of officers all over the state of North Dakota who are dedicated to making schools and children safer by providing the highest quality training to school-based law enforcement officers.
Statutory authority for the operation of school safety patrols throughout the state was given to school districts by the 1995 Legislative Assembly. The purpose of the legislation was to establish a uniform system of protecting pupils from traffic hazards. Implementation of school safety patrols is optional at the local level.
A school safety patrol manual is available for use by school administrators, school safety patrol supervisors, and safety committee members in local communities. It is intended to assist in providing information concerning school safety patrol organization and operation. The manual also contains the standards for operation of the school safety patrol required by North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) 15.1-19-11 and 15.1-19-12. For an electronic copy, please contact the Office of Educational Equity and Support or call (701) 328-2753.
The US Department of Education requires North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to annually report data on truancy rates, the frequency, seriousness, and incidence of violence and drug-related offenses resulting in suspensions and expulsions in all elementary, middle and secondary schools in the state. The information shall be reported to the State on a school-by-school basis. All public, non-public and BIE schools receiving Federal Title funds are required to file this report.
- Suspension Expulsion STARS Report Help Document for Schools
- ND Century Code School Attendance 15.1-20
North Dakota Quick Stats Reports
In 2009, the North Dakota legislature passed SB 2217, which lowered the penalty for truancy from a felony to an infraction for a first offense and a class B misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. Additionally, the legislature required the ND Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to convene a workgroup to further study truancy definitions, reporting and prevention. As a result, the 2011 legislature passed SB 2226, which defines truancy/compulsory attendance, procedures and reporting.
What is Compulsory Attendance and Truancy?
A common definition creates consistent reporting and data; secondly, a common definition allows all districts to effectively communicate the same attendance expectations to staff, students, parents/guardians, and law enforcement/court system. In North Dakota, compulsory attendance is required until a student's 16th birthday.
Truancy is any unexcused absence by a student under the age of 16 to include:
- Three (3) consecutive unexcused days within a semester; or
- Six (6) one-half unexcused days within a semester (elementary school); or
- Twenty-one (21) class hours, as defined by each local education authority (LEA).
The truancy determination is then documented as unexcused by administration or its designee. Excused absence is defined as any student absent from class/school with a written/verbal excuse by the parent/guardian or administrator/school. Each LEA determines the number of truancies before notifying parents, determination of credit loss and disposition of student; and more importantly, each LEA can develop more stringent policies.
Considerations for Elementary vs. Secondary Schools
Truant behaviors and patterns often start in elementary grades and subsequent interventions and consequences may need to differ from middle/high school. Research reveals that most elementary truancies are linked to family and parental issues, where middle/high school truancy is more student initiated. Consider the unique circumstances and community/parental factors that influence and affect each individual school.
Truancy Program Components
- Collaboration – Establish a multidisciplinary group to guide and implement truancy programming. Involve students and parents in planning programs to improve attendance and engagement.
- Family involvement – Target family participation in school attachment activities, engage families in all truancy prevention and intervention efforts, and address family-based needs to support attendance.
- Comprehensive approach – The reasons for nonattendance are varied; a community’s response should be flexible and broad enough to take into consideration the specific issues experienced by students and families.
- Use of incentives and sanctions – A combination of motivating incentives and accountability-based sanctions works best with youth.
- Evaluation and assessment – Test the approach to see if the desired outcomes are produced and make midcourse corrections if necessary.
Establishing a Comprehensive Truancy Prevention Program
- Engagement and attachment activities for youth and parents should be continuous – from elementary school to the senior year of high school.
- Build relationships with local service providers who naturally serve at-risk families.
- Reach out to small businesses to encourage them not to serve school-age children during school hours.
- Provide one point of contact for parents involved in a truancy program – someone who can provide practical assistance, advocacy, and information about involved referral systems/programs.
Model Truancy Programs
Communities In Schools
Communities In Schools, Inc. developed a model for reducing school dropout and
increasing high school graduation. The program operates best in school settings where multiple community agencies, such as community health agencies, social service providers, government agencies, and local businesses are readily available to deliver needed services to youth and their families.
Families and Schools Together (FAST)
The Families and Schools Together (FAST) model is based in elementary schools designed to improve family functioning and relationship to school. When implemented, FAST consists of one elementary school and two selected community-based partners – frequently public health and/or mental health agencies. At-risk youth and their families are invited to participate in eight weekly sessions with other at-risk children and their parents/guardians followed up by two years of monthly sessions.
Check & Connect
Check & Connect is an intervention model designed to promote student engagement with school, reduce dropout behavior, and increase school completion. Students who are truant or tardy on a regular basis and have a behavioral, emotional, or academic concern receive a monitor/mentor. This monitor/mentor serves as an advocate, mentor, and service coordinator for the referred student and his/her family for two years focusing entirely on preserving and enhancing the student’s attachment to school.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
This well-known program pairs at-risk youth with volunteer adults from their community. Staff members orient and screen volunteers, assess youth, and match caring adults with youth. Group activities and supervision are provided by the agency. This one-to-one relationship has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on youth behavior and decision making.
- Cass-Clay Unified School Response Resources
- CCSSO School Safety Repository
- North Dakota Compilation of School Discipline Laws and Regulations - January 2020
- School Safety 50-State Comparison
- Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action
- SchoolSafety.gov - Federal School Safety Clearinghouse