January 30, 2018

Why Rick Shaffer Won’t Settle for Being Compliant

By NaviGate Prepared

An excerpt from Rick Shaffer’s complete article, “Compliant Isn’t Good Enough: Why Mount Vernon City School Goes the Extra Mile with School Safety” Read the full article on Upshot.

It’s Serious Work

Rick Shaffer takes great pride in his home town and his school community. He is fully committed to leaving it in a better way than he found it. We’re pretty sure, Rick will accomplish his goals, and then some.

In the state of Ohio, school safety regulations and compliance are more stringent than most states. Nevertheless, Rick’s proactive approach takes him and Mount Vernon City Schools beyond compliance ensuring staff and students are prepared.

Empowering Action, Improving Preparedness

What is the ratio of staff to administrators in your building? 100 to 1? 50 to 1? Suffice it to say, the ratio is big enough that staff are far more likely to encounter an emergency than an administrator. Why then, aren’t we training staff to initiate a drill or pull a fire alarm? Learn how Rick is using the audio and text scenarios to empower staff to initiate a drill.

Giving staff the opportunity to drill a scenario puts their actions into context. Chances are it will not go smoothly at first (it certainly didn’t for Rick’s staff!), but with a bit of practice comes the confidence and experience to effectively respond when an emergency does occur.

Sleep a Little Easier

Stepping up his game in Mount Vernon means, in the years to come, Rick will rest easier when his grandson enters kindergarten. Be sure to read Rick’s article and take away something you can use in your district. No doubt it will make Rick a happy man to know he’s helped someone else sleep a little easier, too.

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Like Rick, I work at the district in which I live, and my son went through the school system. I too feel that deep-rooted sense of commitment to the staff and students because this is my “turf”.

Alexander Garey

We actually just had this conversation in a staff meeting this morning at our high school. We need to focus on a holistic view of the environment around us. Safety can begin with relationships and preventative measures. We as teachers need to build these relationships with students and other staff/parents to have a community focus.

We definitely need to spread out the span of control to all of our staff and not just the building or district administrators. I always say these are OUR kids and we need to watch out for them and be vigilant. We need to be watching out and have a heightened situational awareness! If you make rules for safety be sure to enforce them. Have a security system that allows multiple sites for monitoring cameras and also magnetic door locks and system as well as not blocking doors and bypassing the security systems. It is a real challenge!

Chad Leggett

I agree that living in the community and knowing the students and staff make a huge difference when looking at, and developing, school safety. It’s not just a part of the job, it’s a part of who you are as a person. Keeping your neighbors safe, keeping their kids safe, keeping the future safe, is a very important part of daily life and should be given the highest priority.

I agree with Chad. School safety ultimately turns into community safety, its who we all need to be and work together for a more effective and safer environment.


Keeping safety on the forefront of everyone’s minds is everyone’s responsibility. The quick tabletops and reviews are an excellent tool

Dean Wright

In light of all that has happened in the recent past with guns in the schools, it is a question on everyone’s mind as to what are we doing, and what else can we do to prepare for this on any of our campuses. The scenario in Florida happened with the pulling of the fire alarm. All of the students reacted as they had been trained since Kindergarten. There will undoubtedly be other copycat happenings somewhere. How do we change the fire drill practice to try and combat this from happening? Good scenario to at least talk about and try… Read more »

School safety is community safety. My granddaughter goes to school here, my kids went to school here, and I went to school here. As the Asst Fire Chief and EMA Director for the city, we have a great working relationship with emergency services, but we haven’t made the jump to linking our PD to our live cameras yet. This would be something that I would hope we can move to in the future. Thanx Rick for sharing and caring, and also for the fireside chat yesterday.

D. Leakey

Sleeping easier is a big deal when it comes to school safety. Knowing everyone is on board and aware of of the standards and processes helps the flow of training and implementation go a long way. Being on your own turf certainly helps build on the foundation of family and community where we can all go that extra mile together.