BOCES are required to develop a BOCES-wide safety plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate the coordination of the BOCES response with local and county emergency responders.
The BOCES-wide safety plan is responsive to the needs of all schools/offices within the BOCES and is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level. BOCES, like school districts, stand at risk from a wide variety of acts of violence from both natural, and man-made disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses prevention, response and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in each school district and its schools.
The Capital Region BOCES supports the SAVE Legislation and intends to facilitate the planning process. The BOCES District Superintendent and Senior Executive Officer encourage and advocate on-going BOCES-wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.
The Capital Region BOCES-wide school safety plan was developed pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17. At the direction of the BOCES Board of Education, the BOCES District Superintendent appointed a BOCES-wide school safety team and charged it with the development and maintenance of the BOCES-wide safety plan.
Identification of Chief Emergency Officer
BOCES designates the Director of Management and Administrative Services as the BOCES’ Chief Emergency Officer whose duties shall include, but not be limited to:
- Coordination of the communication between school staff, law enforcement and other first responders;
- Lead the efforts of the BOCES Health & Safety Committee in the completion and yearly update by September 1st, of the BOCES-wide safety plan and coordination with the building-level emergency response plan;
- Ensure staff understanding of the BOCES–wide school safety plan;
- Ensure the completion and yearly update by September 1st, of building-level emergency response plans for each school building;
- Assist in the selection of security related technology and development of policies for the use of such technology;
- Coordinate appropriate safety, security, and emergency training for staff, including required training in the emergency response plan yearly by September 15th; and
- Ensure the conduct of required evacuation and lock-down drills in all BOCES buildings as required by Education Law section 807.
A BOCES has created a BOCES Health & Safety Committee appointed by the board of education consisting of, but not limited to, representatives of the school board, teacher, administrator, and parent organizations, school safety personnel and other school personnel. The members of the team by title are as follows:
- Director of Management and Administrative Services–chairperson
- Director of Facilities
- Director of Special Education or designee
- Director of Career & Technical Education or designee
- Director of Human Resources
- Director of Communications
- School Attorney
- Director of Business Operations
- Union Representatives (CSEA, PAO, Teachers & TA’s)
- Board of Education Member
Concept of Operations
- The BOCES-wide safety plan is directly linked to the individual building-level emergency response plans. Protocols guide the development and implementation of individual building-level emergency response plan.
- In the event of an emergency or violent incident, the initial response to all emergencies at an individual school is by the building-level emergency response team.
- Upon the activation of the building-level emergency response team, the District Superintendent or their designee is notified and, where appropriate, local emergency officials are notified.
- Efforts may be supplemented by County and State resources through existing protocols.
Plan Review and Public Comment
- This plan shall be reviewed and maintained by the Capital Region BOCES’ Health & Safety Committee and reviewed on an annual basis on or before September 1 of each year. A copy of the plan is on the Capital Region BOCES website.
- Pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17 (e)(3), this plan will be made available for a 30-day public comment period prior to its re-adoption. The BOCES-wide school safety plan was adopted by the School Board on July 20, 2020 after the required public hearing that provided for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties.
- While linked to the BOCES-wide school safety plan, the building-level emergency response plan shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law or any other provision of law, in accordance with Education Law Section 2801-a. The building-level emergency response plan shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed except to authorized department staff and law enforcement officers.
- Full copies of the BOCES-wide school safety plan and any amendments are submitted to the New York State Education Department within 30 days of adoption by posting this public plan on the BOCES website. The building-level emergency response plan is supplied to the NYS State Police and local law enforcement within 30 days of adoption, but no later than October 15.
The BOCES-wide school safety plan provides the framework for the building-level emergency response plan. The purpose of a uniform plan is to ensure organization-wide continuity for emergency responses. These general emergency responses are used to assist school employees, students, parents and emergency responders learn one system that can be used at Capital Region BOCES.
Identification of Sites of Potential Emergency, Including:
- The BOCES Health & Safety Committee in conjunction with local officials has identified areas outside of school property that may impact a facility during an emergency. Factors that were considered included population, presence of hazardous materials, and potential for emergency based on national trends and proximity to district property.
- A list of areas has been identified as having the potential to impact within the BOCES. This list has been created for reference and awareness. The list is not all-inclusive for every emergency. However, these areas have been identified as having the most probable impact on BOCES facilities or boundaries should they have or create an emergency. A list of potential community-based hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plan.
- The BOCES Health & Safety Committee has recognized that there are many factors that could cause an emergency within our school building. There are also factors that need to be considered when responding to an emergency. A list of potential internal and external hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plan.
BOCES has developed multi-hazard response guides. These guidelines are located in the building-level emergency response plan and are in Incident Command System (ICS) format. Plans for taking the following actions in response to an emergency where appropriate are, including but not limited to:
- Initial Actions
- Command Post Location (primary and secondary)
- Shelter in Place: Used to shelter students/staff inside the school
- Severe Weather
- Bomb Threat
- Haz-Mat Incident
- Hold-In Place: Limits student/staff movement while dealing with short term emergencies
- Evacuation: Used to evacuate students/staff from the school/office
- Before, during and after school hours, including security during evacuation and evacuation routes
- Evacuation/Relocation Sites (internal and external)
- Lock-out: Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of the school
- Lock-down: Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school.
- School Cancellation
- Early Dismissal
Emergencies include, but are not limited to:
- Air Pollution
- Medical Emergency
- Natural Gas Leak
- Aviation Crash
- Fire Alarm Activation
- Building Structural Failure
- Roof Leak/Failure
- Bomb Threat
- Heating System Failure
- School Bus Accident
- Civil Disturbance
- Hostage Situation
- Severe Weather Emergency
- Crimes Against People
- Intruder Situation
- Sudden Death of Staff/Student
- Loss of Building
- Threats of Violence
- Electrical System Failure
- Loss of Buses
- Water Emergency
- Energy Supply Loss
- Mass Casualty
BOCES has identified various resources that may be available for use during an emergency, including the identification of personnel, equipment and shelters.
Using the Incident Command System, BOCES has identified the officials authorized to make decisions during an emergency. Through ICS, the procedures to coordinate the use of BOCES’ resources during emergencies are clearly defined. ICS also identifies the staff members and their backups assigned to provide assistance during emergencies.
BOCES has policies and procedures for annual multi-hazard school safety training for staff and students, including the strategies for implementing training related to multi-hazards. Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, all staff undergo annual training by September 15, 2017 and each subsequent September 15 thereafter on the building-level emergency response plan which includes components on violence prevention and mental health. New employees hired after the start of the school year receive this training within 30 days of hire or as part of the BOCES’ existing new hire training program, whichever is sooner. BOCES certifies that this training is completed during the October NYSED BEDS data collection.
Method(s) have been established to provide this training on an annual basis to include but not be limited to: early dismissal/go home drill, shelter-in place, hold-in-place, evacuation/fire drills, lockout, lockdown, table top exercises and Incident Command System training.
BOCES conducts drills and other training exercises to test components of the emergency response plan, including the use of tabletop exercises, in coordination with local, county, and state emergency responders and preparedness officials. A debriefing concludes each test to determine if changes to the plan are necessary.
Fire and Emergency Drills. The BOCES, at least once every school year, and where possible in cooperation with local county emergency preparedness plan officials, conducts one test of its emergency response procedures under its building-level emergency response plan, including sheltering, lock-down, or early dismissal, at a time not to occur more than 15 minutes earlier than the normal dismissal time.
Education Law §§ 807(1-a), 807 (b): Fire and Emergency Drills
The July 2016 amendments expanded fire drill requirements to also include emergency drills to prepare students to be able to respond appropriately in the event of a sudden emergency. The statute now requires twelve drills be conducted each school year, four of which must be lock-down drills, the remaining eight are required to be evacuation drills. There is still a requirement that eight of the required twelve drills must be completed in the first half of the school year. However, the date of completion has been changed from December 1 to December 31 of each school year.
The statute now explicitly requires schools to conduct lock-down drills, which are essential, because they prepare students and staff to respond to the highest level of threat with the most urgent action and the least margin for error. The goal is to have schools conduct drills where they immediately clear hallways, lock doors and take positions out of sight to practice their ability to put the building into a protective posture as quickly as possible. These emergency measures allow time for responding law enforcement to arrive on scene and neutralize the threat. If possible, law enforcement should be involved in the drills to help prepare students and staff for their interactions and release from lock-down by uniformed officers. However, law enforcement involvement is not required by the new legislative mandate. Other protective actions such as lock-out or shelter in place are emergency actions that are usually preceded by some degree of warning time and do not require the immediate response necessary for a lock-down. While the school should be well-versed in their lock-out and shelter in place protocols, lock-down is the only type of protective action that is specifically required by the statute.
At least once every school year, and where possible in cooperation with local county emergency preparedness plan officials, BOCES conducts one test of its emergency response procedures under its building-level emergency response plan, including sheltering, lock-down, or early dismissal, at a time not to occur more than 15 minutes earlier than the normal dismissal time.
When a student or staff member becomes aware of implied or direct threats of violence by other students, he/she must report the threat immediately to the principal or other designated administrator. The appropriate administrator shall determine if it is necessary to convene the threat assessment team in order to make further inquiries about the threat. The threat assessment team process allows the school to systematically investigate student-made threats to determine apparent risk level of the student of concern. Threat assessment inquiries are non-bias and conducted using standardized questionnaires. The purpose of the threat assessment process is to determine if a student poses a real danger to the school community or themselves after gathering information from multiple sources.
The school’s designated administrator (Threat Assessment Team Leader) will manage the threat assessment program. They are responsible for ensuring new members of the threat assessment team receive training in a timely manner. If the school threat assessment team is activated and performs a threat assessment, the Team Leader (or designee) shall notify the Division Director or other administration to determine appropriate management of the student of concern. Disciplinary action, if any, will be in accordance with BOCES policy. Reports of potentially violent incidents shall be given to the Division Director, District Superintendent or BOCES administration as soon as practicable.
The BOCES Building-level Emergency Response plans contain procedures for responding to implied or direct threats of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school, including threats by students against themselves, which includes suicide. The following types of procedures are addressed in the plan:
- The use of staff trained in de-escalation or other strategies to diffuse the situation.
- Informing the District Superintendent or her designee of implied or direct threats.
- Determining the level of threat with the District Superintendent and building-level emergency response team members.
- Contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency, if necessary.
- Monitoring the situation, adjusting the BOCES’ responses as appropriate to include possible implementation of the building-level emergency response team.
- Communication with parents and guardians. When a student implies or specifically threatens self-inflicted violence, including suicide, the school’s social worker directly contacts the student’s parents/guardians.
The Multi-Hazard Emergency Response Guides in the building-level emergency response plan provide guidance on the BOCES’ procedures for responding to direct acts of violence (i.e., Crimes Against Persons, Hostage Taking, Intruder and Kidnapping) by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school, including consideration of zero-tolerance policies for school violence. The following types of procedures are addressed in the plan:
- Inform the District Superintendent/designee.
- Determine the level of threat with the District Superintendent/designee and the building-level emergency response team.
- If the situation warrants, isolate the immediate area.
- Monitor the situation and adjust the level of response as appropriate. If necessary, initiate lock-down, evacuation, sheltering and/or early dismissal procedures as needed.
- Contact appropriate law enforcement agency.
NOTE: The BOCES “Code of Conduct” describes policies and procedures for responding to acts of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school.
Response protocols are identified in the Building-level Emergency Response Plan in the ICS format along with definitions of ICS roles and responsibilities. The Multi-Hazard Emergency Response Guides address specific procedures for responding to a bomb threat, intruder, hostage taking and kidnapping.
The following protocols for appropriate responses to emergencies are provided as examples of responses to bomb threats, hostage takings, intrusions and kidnappings:
- Identification of decision-makers.
- Plans to safeguard students and staff.
- Procedures to provide transportation, if necessary.
- Procedures to notify parents/guardians.
- Procedures to notify media.
- Debriefing procedures.
BOCES has established policies and procedures to contact parents, guardians or persons in parental relation to the students in the event of a violent incident or an early dismissal. At Capital Region BOCES, the following communication methods are taken:
- Building level administrators will communicate with home school personnel, parents/guardians or others in parental relation to students in BOCES programs. Determination on timing, method and scope of contact will be the responsibility of building administration.
The BOCES-wide Safety Plan provides the framework for the Building-level Emergency Response Plan.
BOCES is fortunate to have substantial ties to the communities of Albany, Schenectady and Schoharie County. If there were to be an emergency within our facility, that facility would call 911 for emergency assistance. If involvement is needed from other local government agencies, the District Superintendent or designee would act as that contact person. Additional procedures for communications can be found in the Building-level Emergency Response Plan including local emergency contacts and phone numbers, and the NYS/BOCES Communication Flow Chart. These contacts provide guidance for obtaining assistance during emergencies from emergency services organizations and local government. The following examples are the types of arrangements that could be used by the district:
- Deputy Superintendent (IC-Incident Commander or backup IC) in an emergency would contact the county dispatch center for fire, EMS, or police by calling 911.
- Deputy Superintendent (IC or backup IC) contacts the highest-ranking local government official for notification and/or assistance.
Arrangements for obtaining advice and assistance from local government officials including the county or city officials responsible for implementation of Article 2-B of the Executive Law is carried out through the protocols established in the NYS/BOCES Communication Flow Chart. The following are examples of the types of arrangements that could be used by the district during county-wide emergencies:
- Deputy Superintendent (IC or backup IC) in an emergency contacts the Albany/Schenectady/Schoharie County Emergency Management Coordinator and/or the highest-ranking local government official for obtaining advice and assistance.
- BOCES has identified resources for an emergency from the following agencies: Town of Colonie Police, American Red Cross, Albany/Schenectady/Schoharie County Emergency Services Office, New York State Police, Albany/Schenectady/Schoharie County Sheriff, and the Capital Region Health/Safety/Risk Management Office.
- If the emergency is within BOCES’ boundaries and has the potential to impact the surrounding community, the District Superintendent or designee notifies the appropriate city officials (Example: Mayor, Highway Department, City Administrator, and/or Public Safety). Likewise, should there be an emergency within the community that has the potential to impact the school, the District Superintendent should be notified immediately.
If there is a disaster within the BOCES that has the potential to impact other educational agencies within the BOCES’ boundaries, the Corporate ERT activates a phone tree to inform all necessary parties. The phone tree is located in the Building-level Emergency Response Plan.
Along with the phone tree, BOCES also maintains the following information about each educational agency located in the confidential, Building-level Emergency Response Plan:
- School population
- Number of staff
- Transportation needs
- Business and home telephone numbers of key officials of each such educational agency
The BOCES-wide Safety Plan provides the framework for the Building-Level Emergency Response Plan.
The BOCES has developed policies and procedures related to school building security, including, where appropriate: visitor sign-in and badge procedures, employee badges and security procedures.
BOCES has implemented procedures for the dissemination of informative materials regarding the early detection of potentially violent behaviors, including, but not limited to: the identification of family, community and environmental factors to teachers, administrators, parents and other persons in parental relation to students of the school district or board, students and other persons deemed appropriate to receive such information. BOCES participates in programs such as: child abuse and prevention workshops, programs to train staff on how to identify potentially violent behaviors and other risk factors. BOCES also employs school psychologists, social workers, special education staff and school nurses who help identify early warning signs in students, early intervention/prevention strategies and the development of violence prevention instruction for staff.
Appropriate prevention and intervention strategies include:
- Collaborative agreements with state and local law enforcement officials designed to ensure that school safety officers and other security personnel are adequately trained including training on how to de-escalate potentially violent situations;
- Non-violent conflict resolution training programs;
- Peer mediation programs and youth courts; and
- Extended day and other school safety programs.
BOCES has created and supports strategies for improving communication among students and between students and staff and reporting of potentially violent incidents, such as the establishment of:
- Peer mediation programs;
- Conflict resolution training;
- Creating a forum or designating a mentor for students concerned with bullying or violence;
- Establishing anonymous reporting mechanisms for school violence;
- Others based on district need.
BOCES has descriptions of duties, hiring and screening process, and requirements for the training of hall monitors and other school safety personnel.
Recovery addresses the help that is needed to heal and to restore the BOCES/school community to “normal” operations following an emergency. The BOCES plan deploys resources that support schools’ building-level emergency response team and the post-incident response team.
Recovery plans include mental health/emotional recovery, academic, physical and business recovery, and can continue long after the actual emergency. BOCES has social worker and school psychologist resources and support systems. BOCES also has the ability to coordinate with schools, local, Albany/Schenectady/Schoharie County and State disaster mental health services. BOCES’ role with mental health services includes looking at the school culture and climate, providing student access to services and following threat assessment procedures.
BOCES Support for Building-level Teams
The Building-level Emergency Response Plan provides resources for supporting the building-level emergency response team and post-incident response team. The BOCES Incident Command System (ICS) identifies back-ups to relieve team members. This provides team members the opportunity to rotate personnel, to fill in if assigned personnel are unavailable and to debrief in a supportive environment.
BOCES realizes that some emergencies may overwhelm an individual school’s ability to manage an extreme crisis. If/when the school is faced with an emergency such as threats of violence or actual violent incidents, the BOCES-wide emergency response team assists as follows:
- Act as a sounding board regarding the implied or direct threats and/or violent acts.
- Assist in determining the level of threat and appropriate response.
- Monitor the situation and adjust the response as appropriate.
- Assist with parent/guardian, faculty/staff and media communication.
- Assist with coordinating building and grounds security in conjunction with local and State Police.
- Assist with offering a backup post-incident response team (i.e., another BOCES or school district’s team and/or an outside group) as needed.
- Offer debriefing sessions as needed working in conjunction with local, Albany/Schoharie/Schenectady County and/or State emergency responders.
Disaster Mental Health Services
If/when a building-level emergency response team or post-incident response team is faced with an emergency that may overwhelm the school’s ability to manage an extreme crisis, the BOCES Corporate ERT assists as follows:
- Activate the BOCES-wide post-incident response team. The BOCES has school social workers, school psychologists and school nurses with local connections to:
- Neighboring component school districts
- Albany/Schenectady/Schoharie County Department of Mental Health
- Offer BOCES support and look for continued feedback from those directly impacted during the incident, with projected plans to assist, if needed, during heightened stressful times such as a re-occurrence of a similar event and anniversaries of the original event.
- Assist with parent/guardian, student, and faculty/staff debriefing and/or post-incident crisis intervention. The debriefing is also used in part to evaluate the BOCES-wide safety plan for possible revisions. If needed, assist in contacting additional outside mental health resources such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance (1-800-try-nova; www.try-nova.org).
- Assist schools with written statements going out to faculty/staff, parents/guardians, press releases and media requests through the BOCES Communications Office.
BOCES supports the recovery phase and reevaluates current multi-hazard and violence prevention practices and school safety activities.
The following is a listing of all school buildings covered by the BOCES-wide safety plan:
- Albany Career & Technical School
- Airline Drive Academy
- Central Administration/NERIC-Albany
- Schoharie Career & Technical School
- Maywood School
- Non-Public Textbooks
Identification of Potential Hazardous Sites
- COMMUNITY-BASED LIST: A list of areas have been identified as having the potential to cause an impact within the BOCES. This list was created for reference and awareness. It is not all-inclusive of every conceivable emergency. However, these areas have been identified as having the most probable impact on BOCES facilities or boundaries should they have or create an emergency. A list of potential community-based hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plan.
- SCHOOL-BASED LIST: The BOCES’ Health & Safety Committee has recognized that there are many factors that could cause an emergency within our schools. There are also factors that need to be considered when responding to an emergency. A list of potential internal and external hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plans.
Communicable Disease – Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan
Capital Region BOCES’ Communicable Disease-Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan has been developed to meet the requirements of subsection (2)(m) of Education Law §2801-a, which requires public employers to prepare a plan for the continuation of operations in the event that the governor declares a public health emergency involving a communicable disease.