Safety and Security

More counselors, social workers in Kansas schools

In his monthly report to the State Board of Education, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said the high school graduation rate continues to rise and schools have made great strides in hiring more social workers and counselors. Over the past two years, schools have added 132 counselors, an 11 percent increase, and 133 social workers, a 26 percent increase. Meanwhile, since 2015, the high school graduation rate has increased to 87.5 percent from 85.7 percent, while subgroups have increased as well. English Language learners increased to 82.6 percent from 77.2 percent; students who receive free or reduced lunch increased to 80.2 percent,...

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State Board of Education praises bullying task force report

State Board of Education members Tuesday praised a task force report on bullying that recommends a wide range of strategies to reduce bullying in schools. Board Chair Kathy Busch said the report “lays out a lot of good recommendations.” Here is a link to the report. Board member Ben Jones said bullying, “affects every single kid and I’m looking forward to moving the needle on this.” The 35-member task force was appointed by Education Commissioner Randy Watson in April and held a series of public meetings across the state, hearing from students, teachers, social service leaders and others. Rick Ginsberg, dean of the...

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State Board of Education clamps down on e-cigs, vaping

The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved a policy aimed at prohibiting at school the use of e-cigarettes by students, school staff and visitors. The policy forwarded to Kansas school districts expands prohibitions on tobacco products to e-cigs, vape pens and any other electronic products that can deliver nicotine. Schools across the nation and Kansas have reported an explosive increase in vaping among students from elementary to high school. Deaths and serious health problems have been associated with vaping as has an increase in addiction problems. Nationwide, lung injuries associated with vaping have resulted in 48 deaths in 25 states and...

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Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying finalizes report

The Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying on Monday finalized its report, offering a wide range of recommendations aimed at helping schools reduce bullying. The report says schools should provide a safe and caring environment and that anti-bullying plans must address the differing needs of staff and students identified by sex, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religious faith and socio-economic status. The task force also recommends new resources of funding for more mental health workers in schools. The task force’s work will be presented to the State Board of Education on Dec. 10 and then later...

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Kansas youth trends show decrease in cigarette smoking but increase in vaping

The percentage of high school students who smoke cigarettes has dropped but the percentage who have used electronic vapor products, such as e-cigarettes, has increased dramatically, according to trend data in the 2019 Kansas Youth Risk Behavior Survey.  The results indicate that decades of warnings about the health dangers of cigarette smoking seem to have worked but that progress may be undermined by the rise in recent years of vaping.  In recent months, several deaths across the country, including Kansas, have been blamed, in part, on vaping and health officials are seeing a wave of young people becoming newly addicted to...

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NSBA federal update: Vaping hearing on Wednesday

Senate Education Committee to Hold Youth Vaping Hearing The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing “Examining the Response to Lung Illnesses and Rising Youth Electronic Cigarette Use” on November 13 at 10:00 AM. Live video of the hearing will be available on the committee’s website. The committee has not invited education witnesses to testify at the hearing, but given this issue’s importance to school districts, students, and students’ families, we are closely monitoring Congress’s work in this area. Congress Faces Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Deadline Both the Senate and House will be in session next week,...

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Vaping, dyslexia, legislative agenda on tap for State Board of Education meeting

The State Board of Education on Tuesday will receive recommendations on curbing e-cigarette use and improving ways to help students with dyslexia. Here is a link to the State Board’s agenda and background materials. The E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force will provide a final draft on keeping tobacco and vaping products out of schools. The task force will also update the board on the Tobacco 21 initiative, which would increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The dyslexia recommendations are aimed at improving pre-service teacher programs, professional learning of teachers already in the classroom, screening...

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Threat assessment key to preventing school violence, new report says

A team approach — including the work of local school boards — is needed to help students in distress and prevent school violence, according to an in-depth analysis by the U.S. Secret Service released Thursday. “While communities can advance many school safety measures on their own, our experience tells us that keeping schools safe requires a team effort and the combined resources of the federal, state, and local governments; school boards; law enforcement; and the public,” U.S. Secret Service Director James M. Murray said. The study, which analyzed 41 incidents of targeted school violence from 2008-17, promotes increased mental health awareness,...

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Bullying task force hears from students, counselors

High school students on Wednesday said a good way to reduce bullying in schools is for educators to make students feel worthwhile. The seven students from Lawrence High School and Free State High School told the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying Prevention that they frequently see bullying behavior at their schools and that it often goes unaddressed by teachers and administrators. And they said the bullying behavior is probably less physical than in past generations, but more socially-oriented with bullies manipulating and insulting students, especially on social media. When asked what educators can do to help stop bullying, the students said...

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Threat Assessment Team Training to make schools safer, help students

More than 100 officials from across Kansas on Monday participated in school Threat Assessment Team Training hosted by KASB. Threat Assessment has been touted as a way to prevent violence by creating teams within schools that will determine if any student conduct constitutes a real threat and work with all students on conflict resolution, bullying prevention and mental health. Oftentimes, instances of school shootings result in calls by the public and officials to harden facilities with metal detectors, video surveillance and other security measures, such as arming teachers. However, Frank Zenere, school psychologist and district coordinator of Student Services/Crisis Program for Miami-Dade...

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