102.0 -- School Safety and Security
The School Resource Officer Program is a nationally accepted program that places law enforcement officers on school campuses. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has School Resource Deputies (SRD) who are assigned to high schools and middle schools in the unincorporated county. The North Port Police Department has School Resource Officers (SRO) assigned at the middle schools and high schools in North Port. The Venice Police Department has School Resource Officers assigned to Venice High School. The Sarasota Police Department provides School Resource Officers at the high schools and middle schools within the City of Sarasota.
These are several areas in which the SRO or SRD will be actively involved while working on the school campus:
- A visible, uniformed law enforcement figure on campus to deal with any law-enforcement-related issues.
- A classroom resource for instruction in the following areas: safety programs, educational programs in drug and violence prevention and several other similar topics.
- An extension of the school administration in dealing with a variety of situations.
- A resource for students enabling them to be associated with a law enforcement figure in the student’s environment rather than in a traditional law-enforcement environment.
- A resource for teachers, parents, guardians and students for conferences related to individual problems or questions.
- A counseling resource for law-enforcement issues which affect the educational environment.
102.1—Be Brave Hotline
BE BRAVE stands for Better Education By Reporting All Violence Early and is a statewide effort to encourage students and others to call and report suspected serious incidents or other criminal activities that could affect the safety and well-being of students, staff and visitors at school.
The toll-free number is 1-877-7BE-BRAVE or 1-877-723-2728. Trained personnel answer the number 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If it’s an emergency, call 911. Callers may remain anonymous and will not be required to identify themselves in order to give information. All information received through the hotline will be forwarded to the appropriate school and law enforcement authorities who will investigate and take any necessary action.
102.2—Visitors and Volunteers
- Visitors to the campus must sign in with the main office and present a current state-issued form of identification (e.g. driver’s license or state identification card). The identification is used to register the visitor on campus and process the visitor through a sexual offender/predator database. After a visitor who has legitimate business with the school has been cleared, the visitor will receive a self-adhesive name tag with his or her name, photo and the campus location he or she is visiting. The badge must be visibly worn at all times while the visitor is on school grounds. Any individual considered a non-student must obtain administrative clearance through the visitor management system prior to entering the school. Persons without a pass are subject to a trespassing charge and may be arrested. Visitors who do not clear the sexual offender/predator database will not be allowed unescorted access to campus and must coordinate future visitation with an on-site administrator.
- Any authorized campus visitor wishing to serve as a volunteer (including mentors, tutors, field-trip chaperones, booster club members, etc.) must first apply to be approved as a volunteer through the school district’s Volunteer & Partnership program. Applications may be submitted via computers at your child's school or at the Volunteer & Partnership Office. This application process prompts a Level 1 criminal history background screening to be completed at no cost to the volunteer. This background screening is required for all school volunteers, in addition, normal visitor screening. The school-based volunteer coordinator must receive clearance notice from the Volunteer & Partnership Office before the volunteer is permitted to work in a school or at a school function. Please note that some volunteer interactions (such as one-on-one work with a student and overnight field-trip chaperoning) require a higher level of background screening for a fee. Once approved as a volunteer, check with your school-based Volunteer Coordinator for your volunteer assignment requirements and contact the school district Safety, Security & Emergency Management Department at 941-927-9000, ext. 31132 to make an appointment for fingerprinting, if necessary.
- Upon each visit to a school, after signing in at the office and producing identification for visitor access, approved volunteers must proceed to the school’s volunteer computer and sign in to the Volunteers Count!database for their volunteer session. This process allows volunteers to document volunteer hours and be covered by the school district’s workers compensation insurance policy. All volunteers must sign out on the computer when leaving to end their session. When volunteering at a time when access to the computer is not possible (such as an evening activity or meeting), the school-based Volunteer Coordinator will provide an alternative method for signing in and out as a volunteer. Volunteers serve by permission of the school principal/administrator, who has final authority for allowing volunteers to serve at the school.
- Students who are enrolled in any Sarasota County public school shall not visit any other public school without the permission of the administrative personnel at the school being visited. Any student found in violation of this policy shall be subject to school disciplinary action. Students enrolled in Sarasota County public schools serving as volunteers at any public school must apply and be approved through the school districts Volunteers Count! database and must sign in and out on the volunteer computer documenting their volunteer hours on that campus.
- Visitors must receive approval from the principal in advance to observe in the classroom.
- Teachers cannot stop classroom activities to hold parent conferences.
- Students cannot invite their friends or relatives from other schools to visit the school without express permission in advance from the principal’s office.
- Any individual found on the campus without clearance from a member of the administrative staff is subject to a trespassing charge and possible arrest.
102.3 — Jessica Lunsford Act
The Jessica Lunsford Act (authorized by Florida Statute 1012.467) requires a Level II criminal history background check for contractors and vendors doing business on school grounds. This criminal history background check is done by obtaining and submitting the fingerprints of the contractor or vendor to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Fingerprint clearance checks are performed by the school district Safety, Security & Emergency Management Department. If the contractor/vendor is cleared through the results of the criminal history background check, he or she has issued a photo identification badge. For further information visit the Sarasota County Schools website and click on the link to the Jessica Lunsford Act.
102.4 — Media Releases
Occasionally the school district, newspapers and television stations interview, photograph and/or videotape our schools, teachers and students to visually explain our schools’ programs and events. Those photographs and videos may be used in newspapers, on television stations and in Sarasota County School District publications and productions.
On the school registration forms, parents/guardians may either grant or deny permission for their child to participate in these types of media events. Parents/guardians who later wish to change their decision may do so at any time by completing the appropriate form available from the school’s registrar.
102.5 — Student Identification Badges
The Sarasota County School District issues student identification badges at some schools. At schools where the program has been implemented, these badges are used to identify students and to check out material from the media center. Each student is responsible for the security of their badge and has it available while on school grounds, during field trips or as directed by their teacher/administrator. If a student does not follow this procedure, he or she may be disciplined according to the Code of Student Conduct.
102.6 — Critical Incidents at Schools
During a critical incident, parents should not go to the school unless notified to do so. The school will be secured by law enforcement and parents will not be able to get their student until the threat has cleared. To ensure student safety and security during an incident, parents are asked to not contact their student by cell phone. Updates and other important information will be provided through the Connect-ED telephone communications system. Parents must make sure all of their emergency contact information is current and listed correctly at the school.
102.7 — Cell Phones during Critical Incidents
During a critical incident at the school, cell phones are not to be used by students. Using a cell phone during an emergency limits the students' ability to quickly acknowledge and respond to directions putting themselves and their classmates in jeopardy. Additionally, during certain emergencies talking is not allowed in the classroom. This rule is enforced so that the room will sound vacant; conversation by the students or the ringing of a cell phone could identify their location to an attacker. Parents are asked to explain to their children the importance of not using cell phones during an emergency.