Florida Department of Education’s
Office of Safe Schools
Research shows that schools are one of the safest places for children to be. The Office of Safe Schools (OSS) works to maintain and enhance this research by providing leadership on current and vital school safety issues. The fundamental goal of the OSS is to help schools foster safe and nurturing learning environments that directly and indirectly facilitate student achievement.
Though recent headlines have brought bullying, suicides, drugs and violence to the forefront of public consciousness, school-based professionals have been addressing these challenges for decades. A key finding from years of research on preventing youth substance use and violence is that students who have a sense of connectedness to their schools are more likely to have positive health outcomes. “Safe and Supportive Schools” foster school connectedness by taking a comprehensive approach to measuring and improving school climate.
To foster positive school climate, student engagement, safety and the school environment is consistently addressed at every level—from the classroom to the lunchroom. The benefits of positive school climate reach far beyond students’ social and emotional wellness. When students feel safe, supported and are equipped with social tools, high academic expectations are met with the students’ personal motivation, which ultimately lead to positive academic outcomes.
In 2008, Florida enacted anti-bullying legislation mandating that Florida school districts create their own state-certified, anti-bullying, anti-harassment policies. Now, every district in Florida has a system in place for identifying and responding to bullying issues.
Bullying behaviors are distinct in that they are systematic and chronic, they can be physical and/or emotional, they are increasingly carried out via electronic devices and they often create an intolerable environment for the victim. Cyber-bullying is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing schools today as bullying activities that occur during non-school hours, spill over into the school environment.
A collaborative effort by several federal agencies, the website http://www.stopbullying.gov/, is packed with information, including: (1) strategies for preventing bullying; (2) interrupting bullying behaviors when first detected; (3) handling bullying among children with disabilities and special needs; (4) handling bullying among children with perceived or differences in sexual orientation.
A safe school has several components: extensive campus safety measures, drug and violence prevention initiatives, and perhaps most importantly, a school climate that promotes caring relationships. For additional resources on these and other topics such as: teen dating violence, gang prevention, zero tolerance or child abuse prevention, visit http://www.fldoe.org/safeschools/.
The School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) System collects data on 23 incidents of crime, violence, and disruptive behaviors that occur on school grounds, on school transportation, and at off-campus, school-sponsored events, during any 24-hour period, 365 days per year. Incidents are reported by schools to the districts which, in turn, provide the data to the DOE. The annual Statewide Report on School Safety and Discipline Data report includes:
The Florida School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) System Incidents and Resultant Disciplinary Actions Report summarizes the Total Number of SESIR Incidents by schools within each of Florida's school districts and their corresponding Total Matching Disciplinary Actions. The purpose of this report is to provide a detailed picture of the prevalence of crime and violence incidents within schools, districts and statewide as a means of assessing the accuracy of the SESIR and discipline data reported to DOE from each of these sources.
Healthy District Assessment
The Florida Healthy School District Self-Assessment Tool is provided by the Florida Partnership for Healthy Schools, formerly known as the Coordinated School Health Partnership, in cooperation with Florida Action for Healthy Kids, Florida Association of District Superintendents and Florida Healthy Kids Corporation. Experts from state agencies, school districts, and community partners created the tool to assist districts in achieving the highest standards in infrastructure and the component areas of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Coordinated School Health model and the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model. The self-assessment is based on district infrastructure, policy, programs and practices identified from national and state guidelines, best practices, and Florida statutes.
The tool is first and foremost a self-assessment and planning tool that will help districts determine where they are currently and what they might be able to do to remove health related barriers to learning and work toward recognition as a Florida Healthy District. You may find that it takes a few years to reach the level of recognition but the tool will help you see where you are currently and what you might be able to work on.
Florida Healthy School Districts are encouraged to include school superintendents, school boards, school administrators, component area experts, parents, and the School Health Advisory Committee in the assessment process. Meeting the performance standards contained in this criterion will result in sustainable policies and practices at the district level that positively impact the health of students and staff.
Districts are recognized for two years, after which they will need to re-apply for recognition. There are three levels of recognition: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. A district may apply for a higher level of recognition after one year. The award criteria levels are listed below.
Levels – Progress toward achievements is measured based on these percentages:
* To be eligible for recognition your district needs to score at least 25% in each component.
* Districts applying for the gold level must score 50% or above in each component area.
Gold Level Documentation Information
There are a few identified gold level performance indicators from each component selected for districts to send in supporting documentation (see gold level documentation list link below).
If districts have recorded points for a particular gold level documentation performance indicator, they must send in supporting documentation. However, if no points were recorded in their self-assessment for an identified gold level performance indicator, no documentation is necessary.
Districts are not required to achieve all selected gold level performance indicators to qualify for gold status as long as the total score is 86% or over and the district's score doesn’t fall below 50% in any of the component areas.
Each year a PDF version of the Self-Assessment tool is provided for district teams to use for planning. Below is the 2019-2020 Self-Assessment to use as a reference as your district begins to think about and prepare responses for the updated assessment. Annual Self-Assessment changes are highlighted.
In order to complete your Healthy District Self-Assessment you will need a user name and password. Please review the instructions below to learn how request a user name and how to complete your Healthy District Self-Assessment. The updated online assessment will open in February 17, 2020 and will close April 15, 2020.
To learn more about completing the assessment for future years, please review the resources below.
Note: Your user name will be your email address. Your password does not change from year to year. If you can't remember your password, go to the website, click "sign in", enter your email address and click "I forgot my password" and it will be emailed to you. For first time users to request a password send an email containing your name, district and email address to FloridaPHS@gmail.com. Once you have received your password, you will click on the members tab, log in and then select assessment.
If you have any questions or technical issues, please send an email to: FloridaPHS@gmail.com.