Note: IDRA is one of 40 national organizations that signed on to this statement of principles, released on March 27, 2019.
We believe all students have a right to an education that is safe, addresses their individual needs, and affords them equal opportunities. Efforts to keep schools safe must protect all students’ privacy and dignity, as well as their right to an equal education. Schools must not discriminate against or target students based on their disability or perceived differences.
- School safety measures should focus on prevention, through the creation of a safe, supportive and inclusive school climate for all students.
- Schools must not discriminate, and school safety measures should not reinforce biases against, or rely on profiling of, students based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other similar characteristics.
- The fact that a student has a disability diagnosis, a history of receiving services for a disability, or an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan that addresses disability-related behaviors does not mean the student is a potential threat to his or her school community.
- The role and responsibility of law enforcement, if any, within a school needs to be clearly defined by written agreement. Schools should not rely on law enforcement officers to handle school disciplinary matters.
- If school safety measures include monitoring of students (physically and/or digitally), such measures should be evidence-based, be subject to ongoing evaluation and focus on threats of actual harm. They should be transparently developed in consultation with experts and community stakeholders, including students, parents, and educators.
- If security cameras or other types of surveillance are used in schools, school administrators must ensure that the data collected are not misused and ensure compliance with all applicable privacy laws. Clear policies must be established regarding:
- What data are collected, who has access, how the data will be used, and when the data will be destroyed.
- How to act upon data collected through the surveillance of students.
- Sharing data, especially if data will be shared with law enforcement or others outside of school, with clear responsibilities and accountability as well as consequences for those who violate these data sharing protocols.
- Transparency to educators, parents and students.
- Algorithms used for school safety are imperfect, often based on historical and biased data, and can produce false positives and replicate bias. Final decisions about whether a student is categorized as a threat and the actions to take should be made by school administrators, who are able to take into account the student’s particular needs and circumstances, and not by algorithms.
- Comprehensive school-based mental and behavioral health services are critical to ensuring a positive and safe school climate. School safety measures can and should be undertaken to promote, not undermine, students’ mental health and well-being.
- Students who are designated as a threat, and their families, should have an opportunity for recourse, have access to the information used to make the determination, and have the opportunity to dispute the determination.
- Surveillance measures should be reviewed regularly to verify that they are fulfilling the goal of protecting student safety and are not producing deleterious unintended effects, and to ensure that unnecessary surveillance is not continued.
Signed by: AASA: The School Superintendents Association • American Association of People with Disabilities • The Advocacy Institute • The Arc of the United States • Association of Educational Service Agencies • Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents • Association of School Business Officials International • Association of University Centers on Disability • Autism Society • Autistic Self Advocacy Network • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law • The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus • Center for Public Representation • Council of Administrators of Special Education • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates • Disability Independence Group, Inc. • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund • EPIC • Florida Association of School Psychologists • Florida League of Women Voters • Florida Parent Teacher Association PTA • Future of Privacy Forum • Intercultural Developmental Research Association • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law • Learning Disabilities Association of America • Mental Health America • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities • National Center for Learning Disabilities • National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools • National Center for Youth Law • National Disability Rights Network • National Education Association • National PTA • National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium • National Rural Education Association • Public Advocacy for Kids • Sandy Hook Promise • School Social Work Association of America • Southern Poverty Law Center • TASH.