Community Partnering

Community partnering is the collaboration between schools and stakeholders in the community who are dedicated to protecting the schools.

Community partnering is at the core of the School Response Framework, established in Colorado with the passage of Senate Bills 08-181, 11-173, and 12-079.

The School Response Framework names the following entities as community partners: local fire departments, state and local law enforcement agencies, local 911 agencies, interoperable communications providers, the Safe2Tell program, local emergency medical service personnel, local mental health organizations, local public health agencies, local emergency management personnel, and local or regional homeland security personnel.

The roles and responsibilities of community partners are spelled out in the School Response Framework, which is part of the Colorado Safe Schools Act.

Colorado Safe Schools Act
School Response Framework

As revised by SB12-079, signed into law March 24, 2012

22-32-109.1.  Board of education – specific powers and duties – safe schools.

(4)  School response framework – school safety, readiness, and incident management plan. Each board of education shall establish a school response framework that shall consist of policies described in this subsection (4). By satisfying the requirements of this subsection (4), a school or school district shall be in compliance with the national incident management system, referred to in this subsection (4) as “NIMS”, developed by the federal emergency management agency. At a minimum, the policies shall require:

(a) (I)  Each school district, on or before July 1, 2009, to establish a date by which each school of the school district shall be in compliance with the requirements of this subsection (4); except that the date may be changed by the school board for cause.

(II)  Each school district shall make the dates established pursuant to subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (a) available to the public upon request.

(b)  Each school district to adopt the national response framework released by the federal department of homeland security and NIMS formally through orders or resolutions;

(c)  Each school district to institutionalize the incident command system as taught by the emergency management institute of the federal emergency management agency;

(d)  Each school district, on or before July 1, 2009, to start to develop a school safety, readiness, and incident management plan, including, to the extent possible, emergency communications, that coordinates with any statewide or local emergency operation plans. In developing the plan, a school district may collaborate with local fire departments, state and local law enforcement agencies, local 911 agencies, interoperable communications providers, the safe2tell program described in section 16-15.8-103, C.R.S., local emergency medical service personnel, local mental health organizations, local public health agencies, local emergency management personnel, and local or regional homeland security personnel, which entities are collectively referred to in this subsection (4) as “community partners”. The school safety, readiness, and incident management plan shall, at a minimum, identify for each public school in the school district:

(I)  Safety teams and backups who are responsible for interacting with community partners assuming key incident command positions; and

(II)  Potential locations for various types of operational locations and support functions or facilities;

(e)  To the extent possible, each school district to enter into memoranda of understanding with the community partners specifying responsibilities for responding to incidents;

(f)  To the extent possible, each public school to create an all-hazard exercise program based on NIMS and to conduct tabletop exercises and other exercises in collaboration with community partners from multiple disciplines and, if possible, multiple jurisdictions to practice and assess preparedness and communications interoperability with community partners;

(g)  To the extent possible, each public school, in collaboration with its school district, to hold coordinated exercises among school employees and community partners including at a minimum:

(I)  Orientation meetings to inform all parties about emergency operation plans and procedures;

(II)  All-hazard drills, in addition to fire drills, to improve individual and student emergency procedures and to test communications interoperability; and

(III)  Tabletop exercises to discuss and identify roles and responsibilities in different scenarios;

(h)  Each public school to conduct a written evaluation following the exercises and certain incidents as identified by the school or school district and identify and address lessons learned and corrective actions in updating response plans and procedures;

(i)  Each public school, at least every academic term, to inventory emergency equipment and test communications equipment and its interoperability with affected state and local agencies;

(j)  Each school district to adopt written procedures for taking action and communicating with local law enforcement agencies, community emergency services, parents, students, and the media in the event of certain incidents as identified by the school or school district;

(k)  Key emergency school personnel, including but not limited to safety teams and backups, to complete courses provided by the federal emergency management agency’s emergency management institute or by institutions of higher education in the state system of community and technical colleges;

(l)  School district employee safety and incident management training, including provisions stating that completion of any courses identified by the department of public safety pursuant to section 24-33.5-110, C.R.S., as related to NIMS count toward the professional development requirements of a person licensed pursuant to article 60.5 of this title;

(m)  Each school district to work with community partners to update and revise all standard operating procedures, ensuring that all aspects of NIMS are incorporated, including but not limited to policies and principles, planning, procedures, training, response, exercises, equipment, evaluation, and corrective actions;

(n)  Each school district to coordinate with community partners to assess overall alignment and compliance with NIMS; identify requirements already met; establish a baseline for NIMS compliance; and determine action steps, including developing a plan and timeline, to achieve and maintain all NIMS goals; and

(o)  Each school district to develop a timeline and strategy for compliance with the requirements of this subsection (4) and to strategically plan, schedule, and conduct all activities with community partners.