Maintaining that having guns in schools puts a student’s safety in jeopardy, a civil rights group is calling on schools to improve security without resorting to an armed presence on campuses.

Advancement Group’s recommendations are included in a 28-page report, “A Real Fix: A Gun-Free Way to School Safety.”

“Stationing law enforcement officers in schools provides the appearance of security, but all too often, there are unintended consequences that are detrimental to students,” the report states. “Thus, armed guards and law enforcement should not be part of a holistic, concerted effort to ensure that children are safe. To protect our schools, we have to protect our children.”

The group urges schools to craft school safety plans with these components:

  • A focus on preventing crises through by creating a positive school culture. This can be accomplished, the report says, “through meaningful communication between staff and families; hiring mental health support professionals for students; supporting proven programs that reduce violence, like conflict resolution programs and restorative justice; engaging students with curriculum and instruction; and limiting the use of zero-tolerance and exclusionary student discipline practices.”
  • Appropriate security strategies such as appointment of a safety ombudsman; escorting students who walk to school; securing entrances to the school by locking doors from the outside and monitoring entry to the building; installing a centralized security system linked with the local emergency response team and a centralized communication system within the school building; issuing identification badges to staff and students; guiding visitors through a sign-in process; escorting visitors in the building; and requiring parking permits for all cars parked on school property.
  • A crisis plan that requires thorough preparation for an emergency; a detailed communications strategy; school and neighborhood site maps; drills and trainings; a response plan to evacuate, reverse evacuate, lockdown, or shelter in place; and a plan for helping students and staff to recover from a crisis.

“Reactionary responses to shootings in schools that simply place police in schools cannot work as a strategy and is not school security,” the report asserts. “Police in schools do not make students feel safer and can create a hostile environment for students. It is possible, and necessary, to protect the school environment without police in schools.”