Schools’ crisis plan one of the most sophisticated in area

Survey shows exactly what stakeholders think about current plan

June 04, 2008 at 11:31 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Parents, teachers and administrators have a high level of confidence in the St. Charles Parish Public Schools’ Crisis Management and Emergency Response Plans, though they would like a little more information on the process.

That’s the decision that The Ehrhardt Group, who conducted a survey of 100 parents, 128 teachers and 13 administrators, found in an audit of key stakeholders in the school system.

The surveys were distributed randomly to stakeholders in the parish, with the number of surveys distributed to each school based on the student population. The survey cost the district $2,000.

A decision was made to do the survey after an audit of the plans showed that the school system’s Crisis Management and Emergency Response Plans were so thorough that they couldn’t recommend any changes.

“I can tell you folks that we do this routinely and what we found with the plan was a level of sophistication that, honestly, we don’t see in a lot of educational systems,” Stephen Majors, of The Ehrhardt Group, said.

After evaluating the plans, The Ehrhardt Group said that the school system possesses one of the most sophisticated crisis plans in the metro New Orleans area and perhaps statewide. It found that the school’s operational procedures for a crisis or emergency match or exceed those of other public school districts. The study also showed that the communications procedures are in many ways superior to other school systems and that the Connect ED system is a vital life-line for parents.

Because the system’s plans seemed to work so well, the group recommended a survey of key stakeholders to determine if they would recommend any changes. While the survey results proved that parents, teachers and administrators felt that the school system was well prepared for an emergency, it did show that some parents and teachers may be under informed.
To solve that problem, parents and guardians will get a guide next year that will tell them exactly what actions the schools take in different emergency situations and what they should do if those situations occur.

The Ehrhardt Group said that the guide should be user-friendly with tabbed sections directing parents to the critical information they would need in a crisis. They also suggested having a punched hole to allow parents to hang it on a peg, or that a refrigerator magnet should be provided.
Overall, 59 percent of the parents surveyed felt that their school was very well prepared to handle important emergency or crisis situations. 45 percent of the teachers and 47 percent of the administrators surveyed felt the same.

A slightly smaller margin of the parents, 41 percent, found their children’s schools to be adequately prepared. 51 percent of the teachers and 53 percent of the administrators echoed that sentiment, with only 4 percent of the teachers surveyed holding the opinion that their school was not prepared at all.

The survey also found that parents, teachers and administrators think that the school system should focus the most attention on protecting students from armed offenders. Intruders ranked second in each group, while the third spot went to severe weather such as hurricanes and tornados.
Not surprisingly, in the post-Katrina environment, stakeholders are extremely confident in the ability of the school system to prepare for natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Parents, teachers and administrators also feel that the school is well prepared to take on a medical emergency, a bomb threat or an intruder on campus.

They weren’t as confident in the school system’s ability to handle suicide, kidnapping and food poisoning.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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