Safety and Security

State Board of Education approves mental health grants

More Kansas schools and students will be benefiting from state mental health grants. Earlier this week, the State Board of Education approved $3.8 million to school districts and $2 million to local community health centers for the Mental Health Intervention Team Program for the 2019-20 school year. The effort started last year as a pilot program to increase mental health services for students. Nine districts benefitted from the pilot program last year. Now funds will be going to 31 districts to hire school liaisons who will coordinate services for students between the staff, parents and mental health centers and will also provide...

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Officials raising awareness of school bus law; may seek changes to make it easier to enforce

Alarmed by the number of motorists who drive by stopped school buses that are displaying flashing red lights and have extended the mechanical stop arm, officials are trying to raise awareness of the law and are considering changes in the law to make it easier to enforce. “School bus safety should be a top priority year-round,” said Keith Dreiling, director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s School Bus Safety Unit. “It is the responsibility of everyone to make sure Kansas students remain safe. School buses remain very safe, but we know that student passengers are most vulnerable when they...

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Kansas will consider raising age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes

Officials said Tuesday they will seek an increase in the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Education and health officials say the change is needed because of the drastic increase in young people vaping, or using e-cigarettes. “It has exploded. It is an epidemic,” said Mark Thompson, a program consultant with the Kansas State Department of Education. Officials told the State Board of Education that a bill to raise the age is being prepared for the 2020 Kansas legislative session, which starts in January. The proposal coincides with increasing efforts by education and health...

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Officials brief State Board of Education on Suspicious Activity Reporting system

State officials Tuesday provided details on the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) system to report anonymously possible safety issues. The briefing to the State Board of Education was made as schools across the state start a new school year. Safety officials have been working to create one repository to analyze possible threat information. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has been working with the Kansas Highway Patrol, which responds to the Kansas School Safety Hotline, to copy information they receive and upload it to SAR. New posters will be provided to school districts that include the Kansas School Safety hotline (1-800-626-8203); the Parent and...

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Court order on transgender bathrooms may increase requests

A recent federal court order against a Virginia school district may increase requests from parents of transgender students for access to restrooms corresponding to the student’s gender identity. The ruling said the Gloucester County School Board’s transgender bathroom ban against a former student violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and Title IX, which is the federal policy that protects against gender-based discrimination. The board’s policy had required, Gavin Grimm, a transgender male who has since graduated high school, to use girls’ restrooms or private restrooms. The court also ordered the school board to update Grimm’s official school transcript to identify...

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School security, vaping on State Board of Education’s agenda

As a new school year starts across Kansas, the State Board of Education on Tuesday will receive updates on school security and student use of e-cigarettes. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and background materials. E-cigarette use increased 48 percent among middle school students and 78 percent among high school students between 2017 and 2018, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students across the United States used e-cigarettes in 2018. These increases have led the Surgeon General and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human...

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As school starts, some Hispanic students, parents on edge

A racially motivated mass shooting in Texas and a mammoth immigration sweep in Mississippi have some Latino students and their parents in Kansas on edge as a new school year begins. Adriana Holguin, a migrant education program advocate at the Southwest Plains Regional Center in Sublette, said one mother of a migrant family told her that the family prays each day that they will be together at the end of the day “because at this point you are never sure about another tomorrow.” Patrick Crusius, who was charged in the Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas that left 22 dead, confessed...

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State and national experts on tap for IDEA workshops

State and national experts on special education advocacy and practice will present at KASB’s IDEA workshops later this month. Click here to register.   The workshops are on Aug. 27 in Topeka; Aug. 28 in Dodge City and Aug. 29 in Salina. Each workshop will feature regional special education experts and KASB General Counsel and Assistant Executive Director of Policy Donna Whiteman. National School Boards Association Chief Advocacy Officer Chip Slaven will join KASB Advocacy staff Leah Fliter and Rob Gilligan and NSBA Western Region Director Frank Henderson of the Seaman USD 345 Board of Education to brief attendees on the...

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Anti-bullying task force receives expert testimony

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying met in Salina on Monday to continue gathering data and public input. The task force will make recommendations to the Kansas Legislature in January 2020.  As the task force meets across the state, a new national report offers some insights into the bullying; you can read KASB Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Communications Mark Tallman’s blog about it at this link.  Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson announced the formation of the Task Force in March, citing data that 28 percent of students in grades six through twelve experience bullying. Bullying has also...

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Department of Homeland Security hosts discussion on school security 

The Department of Homeland Security held an initial roundtable discussion last week about the development of a federal clearinghouse to share best practices regarding school security. The clearinghouse was a recommendation from the school safety commission to “assess, identify, and share best practices related to school security measures, technologies, and innovations.” These topics were recently the focus of a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. With states like Florida implementing new data systems designed to prevent school violence, NSBA is urging members to be actively involved in state and local discussions about this topic, so that decision-makers...

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