Illustration of people holding hands in a circle

Safety Services

Safety Services

Illustration of people holding hands in a circleA variety of supports to keep our students and staff safe and healthy

Charlottesville City Schools offers a variety of programs to support our students and staff. The foundation is a commitment to wellness and promoting a positive school culture. Beyond that, we proactively make plans to keep our students  and staff safe. Read below to learn more about specific ways we work to promote the wellbeing of our school communities.


Superintendent Committee on School Safety/Security Resources

Earlier this fall, Dr. Atkins appointed a number of superintendent committees to provide recommendations in three areas (Covid-19, school names, and school safety).  The committee for school safety/security resources was prompted in part by the schools and the Charlottesville Police Department jointly ending our 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s). The committee’s goal is to recommend the best path forward for the near-term and longer-term.

Thanks to those of you who have learned about our proposed model for school safety and shared your feedback. You can still find the video, other materials, and the survey at charlottesvilleschools.org/safety.

Final Recommendation to the Superintendent

At its final meeting on April 27, the CCS School Safety Committee made its final recommendation to the superintendent during a public meeting. You can watch the meeting here. The School Board will vote on May 6. You can watch on Facebook or register to attend. In the interest of time, it is likely that a compressed version of this presentation will be made at the Board meeting, although the full video and slides will be posted as part of the meeting’s materials.

Final Recommendation (the basis of the School Board vote on May 6)

 

Brief Overview of Safety Model

  • Survey was closed on 5/5 to allow time to gather feedback for School Board prior to 5/6 vote. Find results in slides and documents, in “minutes, resources, and more.”

 

Accessibility and Other Languages

Full Script for Video

Overview of Proposed Model for School Safety
in Charlottesville City Schools (March 2021)

Background Information

In June 2020, Charlottesville’s School Board and Police Department agreed that we need a new model for school safety, one that does not place School Resource Officers, or SROs, in our schools. This decision supports our equity work and reflects current trends in school safety.

Safety remains our top priority, and there are many models for safety. Data does not indicate that having an SRO on site leads to better outcomes for either day-to-day events or emergencies.

Research-Based Ideas

What data does show is effective are many areas that Charlottesville has already committed to, such as:

  • Mental wellness
  • Intentional community-building and strong relationships
  • Common-sense building upgrades
  • Threat assessment teams and de-escalation skills to evaluate and manage situations as they arise
  • Restorative practices to restore good relationships, teach interpersonal skills, and minimize engagement with court systems

The Proposed Plan for Charlottesville Schools

In the fall, the Superintendent convened a committee of staff, students, family members and community members, many with relevant expertise. They were asked to research and recommend a new safety model.

As the committee worked, one model rose to the top. In Toronto, Canada, they removed school resource officers in 2017 and found success using school-hired safety monitors. In many cases, these safety monitors were already working in the schools or the community. These safety monitors are “more mentor than muscle.” They keep an eye on the facilities to make sure that doors are secured, and they walk the halls of the schools to offer a helpful hand as needed. They are trained in de-escalation, mental health, and safety procedures. In Charlottesville, the training of the safety monitors would be directed by the division, and they’d report to the building principals at Buford, CHS, and Lugo-McGinness Academy.

In addition to safety monitors, this model also increases focus on mental wellness and student supports. Due to a recent grant and the planned budget for 21-22, Charlottesville City Schools will add mental health or social work professionals on every level.

Following a revised memorandum of understanding, police will still come to schools when needed. We’ll also continue to partner with community organizations in Charlottesville because we work better together. We’ll keep upgrading facilities with a focus on door access control. Again, the foundation is positive school culture and building relationships. We’ll train staff in key areas such as restorative practices. And we’ll teach the social-emotional skills our students need to self-regulate and help support their peers. Everyone has a role to maintain a positive school atmosphere.

Summary of the Big Ideas of this Proposed Plan

So the big ideas are —

  • Strengthening our community and relationships
  • Growing our mental health supports
  • Raising up community mentors to be an extra set of hands in the hallways
  • Partnering with the community, including clearly defined situations when police will still come to schools to promote safety

More Information and Survey

Have questions or suggestions? Visit charlottesvilleschools.org/safety to find a survey or learn more.

  • Español:    Información   |    Encuesta ahora cerrada
  • Arabic: المسح مغلق الآن  |  تعليق
  • Dari:  اطلاعات  |   نظر سنجی
  • Pashto:    معلومات  | سروې
  • Swahili:    Habari  |  Maoni sasa yamefungwa

More Information about the Committee on School Safety/Security Resources

Click Here for Minutes, Resources, and More

As this safety/security resources committee begins meeting, we will post updates to this page. Check back here or sign up to receive email updates as they are posted.

Click here to sign up to receive email updates

Click here to give feedback or suggestions to the committee

Committee Meeting 1 (November 10, 2020)

Committee Meeting 2 (November 18, 2020)

Committee Meeting 3 (November 24, 2020)

Committee Meeting 4 (December 2, 2020)

Committee Meeting 5 (December 8, 2020)

Committee Meeting 6 (Public Forum on School Safety, January 12, 2021)

  • Slides
  • For overview/recap, see slides and minutes from January 14 meeting, below.

Committee Meeting 7 (January 14, 2021)

Committee Meeting 8 (February 2, 2021)

School Board Presentation (March 4, 2021)

Committee Meeting 9 (April 22, 2021)

  • Meeting was re-scheduled from April 20, 2021
  • Slides
  • Preliminary Feedback from Survey
  • Meeting was dedicated to discussion and slight revisions to slides, which formed the basis of the public meeting and presentation to the superintendent on Tuesday, April 27.  These slides also form the basis for the Board’s vote on May 6.

Committee Meeting 10 (April 27, 2021)

  • This was a public Zoom meeting to present the final recommendation to the superintendent. To understand what the Board will be voting on during their May 6 meeting, please review the slides or watch the video.

Presentation for Listening Sessions

Related Resources


Safety Programs at Charlottesville City Schools

A System of Supports

A System of Supports: VTSS and PBIS

Charlottesville City Schools has implemented a framework for creative a positive, consistent school culture using the models of Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) and Positive Behavorial Intervention and Supports (PBIS). The school division has won a trailblazer’s award for the way we have included attention to mental wellness in our implementation of VTSS.

Wellness

Wellness

Social, emotional, and physical wellness are foundational to life and learning

BME IMG_3751Charlottesville City Schools recognizes the strong link between a child’s social, emotional, and physical health and their ability to learn. Schools also play an important role in teaching children about wellness.

In 2016, our school division won a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Award in recognition of our policies in place to promote healthy choices for our students and staff. We have also won national recognition for our attention to mental wellness through social and emotional learning programs and our systems of positive supports.

Our 2017-23 Strategic Plan places a strong emphasis on “Safe and Supportive Schools,” with specific goals for social, emotional, and physical wellness.

The School Health Advisory Board—made up of health professionals, community agencies, parents, educators and students—advises the School Board in the development and evaluation of our state-recognized Wellness Policy and programs that support the health and well-being of students, families, and school staff.

More Information:

Sample Partners and Related Programs:

 

Community

Fostering School Community and Relationships

One of the goals for Charlottesville City Schools is to promote a positive and inclusive culture in our learning communities.  Relationships are at the heart of a thriving community.  We strive to encourage strong relationships among and between staff, students, and families through mentoring and other initiatives.

Examples include:

  • A strong sense of community is at the heart of our division-wide framework for supporting students’ academic, behavioral, and mental health needs (Virginia Tiered Systems of Support and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). Both Johnson Elementary and our alternative learning center, Lugo-McGinness Academy, have led the way as we establish practices that build community, encourage good behavior, and deepen relationships.
  • From school-wide meetings at Venable to Fun Fridays at Clark to the Harry Potter-style “house” system at Jackson-Via, our elementary schools promote a positive sense of community. Need another example? How about the “welcome back” field days at the start of each semester at Burnley-Moran.
  • We believe in mentoring, whether that means Buford eighth-graders serving as reading buddies at neighboring Johnson Elementary, upperclassmen at CHS welcoming ninth-graders through Link Crew, or teachers, coaches, and community leaders guiding students at every step of the way.
  • Our school counselors foster social-emotional health in a variety of ways. They offer classroom lessons, such as Walker students guiding their blindfolded partners to solve jigsaw puzzles. They also sponsor clubs and groups such as the Walker Peace Squad or the Jackson-Via Bully-Nots. Social-emotional learning is also part of our curriculum, and trauma-responsive practices are in place in all our schools.
  • Relationships (and reading skills) can deepen even during the summer through our teachers’ and librarians’ Books on Bikes program! The BoB team visits neighborhoods to deliver free books, popsicles, and smiles. (A therapy dog even makes the rounds!)
  • Parents are a big part of our school communities, whether through staying connected, volunteering, or attending  events such as Doughnuts with Dad at Johnson. We are proud to have a Family Engagement Coordinator and are so grateful for the good work of our active PTOs!
  • Clubs, athletics, and our amazing fine arts programs also build relationships and community.
  • An award-winning and comprehensive commitment to wellness — from mental health to outdoor gardens — lays the foundation for our community-building.

Related Information

Community Partnerships

School safety is not limited to the school day. We are a model of community partnership for areas such as mental health (partnering with Region 10 to provide no-fee counselors at CHS, Buford, and Walker); trauma-informed practices (co-founding and partnering with the Charlottesville Trauma Network for staff training and agency consistency); and community policing (working with the Charlottesville Police Department).

Safety and Emergency Planning

CCS color seal logo for faviconEmergency Planning

School leaders work throughout the year evaluating security measures and planning for crises and emergencies. Student safety is our top priority. We work with local police, develop building-specific security procedures, and participate in emergency management training and activities. Each school has a threat assessment team to promote safety in the schools.

Our plans include:

  • Training for all employees
  • Routine safety drills
  • Building-specific security procedures
  • Strong school-based staffing of counselors, social workers, and psychologists
  • Threat assessment teams at all schools
  • Surveillance cameras, screening procedures for visitors, buzz-in entrances, lighting/locking upgrades, and standardized exterior door signage to assist first responders
  • Continued awareness of local or national events and their impact
  • Participation in local emergency management activities and drills with government, school, and public health officials
  • Attendance at school safety conferences to stay in step with best practices

In 2020, the schools and the Charlottesville Police Department jointly ended our 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s). The superintendent has convened a committee on safety and security resources to explore future models. Learn more by visiting charlottesvillesvilleschools.org/safety.

These emergency plans complement our larger goals for promoting safety by building systems of supports for all students, promoting wellness, and creating a positive school culture.

What Can Families Do?

There are concrete steps you can do now to make sure you stay informed and to help create a positive community.

  • Keep your contact info up-to-date. Has your telephone number or email address changed? Contact your school!
  • Customize how you hear from us – choose phone, email, or text! Log in to PowerSchool and click on “School Messenger.”
  • Stay connected with your school’s PTO!
  • Talk to your children about school safety, particularly when there has been a national incident. Click here for tips from the National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Follow the national conversation on school safety and advocate as you see appropriate.