Overview of Safe Schools and Emergency Operations Planning


Learn how we are supporting the development of state-mandated school safety plans through the Santa Cruz County Safe Schools Consortia.

Dr. Faris Sabbah
Dr. Faris Sabbah
Rishi Lal
Director of School Safety
(831) 466-5901
Verenise Valentin
Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent
(831) 466-5909

Overview of Safe Schools and Emergency Operations Planning

Public Schools in California are mandated under Education Code 32280 to develop a comprehensive school safety plan that is updated annually to meet emerging needs and legislative requirements.

The components of a school safety plan include polices and procedures to ensure a safe and orderly campus, specialized instructional programs that promote equity, tolerance, safety, health and wellbeing, and a stand alone emergency crisis response plan. A school’s emergency crisis response plan must align with the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) (as required by the Petris Bill, California Government Code Section 8607) as well as the National Incident Management System (NIMS), established in the wake of 9/11 as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and subsequent Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD 5).

SEMS and NIMS have five major components for addressing emergencies across all sectors. These include:

  1. Incident Command System (ICS). The primary management system required to be used by all agencies in California
  2. Mutual aid agreements between similar organizations (fire jurisdictions, city and county law enforcement agencies, etc.)
  3. Multiple agency coordination. Allows diverse organizations to work and communicate together effectively (OES, law enforcement, fire, schools, etc.)
  4. Operational areas (establishes overall command and control for the incident)
  5. Satellite linkages (establishes priority communication system if necessary)

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education provides leadership for the development of school emergency and safety plans through the convening of the Santa Cruz County Safe Schools Consortia.

The Safe Schools Consortia is comprised of local fire and law enforcement agencies, Office of Emergency Services, Health Services Agency (health and mental health), the Red Cross, Emergency Communications Center (911), and representatives from the ten Santa Cruz County school districts and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.

Since 2005, the Consortia has worked with all local schools to assess the vulnerability and needs of school sites and personnel to respond to a variety of natural and manmade threats that could impact our students, families and communities. The Consortia worked closely with the County Office of Emergency Services and the various County Emergency Management Council’s sub-committees to develop uniform county response plans for large-scale events such as earthquakes, severe weather, flooding, flu outbreaks, and a variety of terrorist-type attacks. All school emergency plans are currently aligned and integrated with the County Emergency Management Plan, which incorporates Homeland Security Priorities, National Incident Management System and California’s Standardized Emergency Management System use of Incident Command Systems under a Uniform Command protocol.

Through these collaborative efforts, the Safe Schools Consortia established our current multi-hazard emergency management procedures and protocols.

As a result of lessons learned from school shootings, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, severe storms and other multi-hazards impacting schools, President Obama signed the Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) in March of 2011, describing a uniform approach to developing school emergency operation plans aligned with all other national preparedness efforts.

PPD-8 defines preparedness around five mission areas: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. These mission areas generally align with the three timeframes associated with an incident: before, during, and after.

Community Partners