The N.C. Center for Safer Schools serves as the state's primary point of contact on issues dealing with school safety and the prevention of youth violence.
Serve as a customer-focused information center for research, training and technical assistance related to school safety, crisis prevention and response to work effectively and efficiently with federal, state, local and community-based organizations with the ultimate goal of safer schools in North Carolina.
All schools in the state are safe, secure and offer an environment conducive to learning.
The Center for Safer Schools is housed in the N.C. Department of Public Safety. DPS, with its expertise in the fields of juvenile justice, law enforcement and emergency management, is uniquely situated to ensure that communities in North Carolina receive the information and technical assistance they need to become better prepared to prevent and respond to all forms of school violence.
The Center for Safer Schools provides a one-stop shop of school safety information and customer services to schools, law enforcement, youth-serving agencies, juvenile justice officials, community leaders, policymakers, parents and students.
- Center staff will be available to help schools assess site safety issues; to work on-site with communities and schools who are experiencing unacceptable levels of school and youth violence; and to provide community or school presentations on topics such as emerging trends in school violence, safe school and site assessment, gang prevention and risk identification.
- DPS will explore creating a set of basic certification standards and updated training for school resource officers, to include forums facilitated with SROs, juvenile court counselors and school administrators.
- Law Enforcement and Emergency Management staff will assist local responders in enhancing critical incident response strategies and techniques.
The Center for Safer Schools will call on experts from a wide array of fields, and from inside and outside of DPS, including:
- experts in violence prevention, from the fields of juvenile justice, mental health and public health;
- experts in mitigation, from the security, emergency management and school planning fields;
- experts in crisis response from the fields of law enforcement, public health and emergency management; and
- mental health experts to deal with crisis recovery.
Immediately following his inauguration, Gov. McCrory directed the Department of Public Safety to recommend new strategies to improve the safety of North Carolina's schools. Shortly thereafter, the Governor created the North Carolina Center for Safer Schools within the Department of Public Safety. The Center is a source of information for school systems throughout the state.
The new Center collaborated with other state agencies to organize nine public forums around the state. Each forum consisted of safety and on-site review tours followed by informal discussions with the DPS Secretary, educators and local law enforcement, as well as listening sessions with citizens and local leaders to learn about local concerns and challenges related to school safety. Information gathered at the nine forums was compiled into a report to the Governor. It included more than 80 recommendations to improve school safety through prevention, intervention crisis response and recovery. A list of low-cost security measures for schools was also included.
In December 2013, the Governor's Task Force for Safer Schools met for the first time with a wide membership range including students, teachers, elected officials, lawyers and law enforcement. The Task Force provides guidance to the Center for Safer Schools and considers future policy and legislative changes needed to improve school safety in North Carolina.
The precursor to the N.C. Center for Safer Schools was the Center for the Prevention of School Violence, (CPSV) established by an executive order of the Governor of North Carolina in 1993. The Center was created to serve as a primary point of contact for addressing school violence.
Prior to the CPSV creation, in the early 1990s, several incidents of violence occurred in North Carolina schools, and a survey of school administrators in 1992 highlighted concerns. Gov. James B. Hunt, North Carolina's governor in 1993, convened the Task Force on School Violence to examine the issue, and one of the resulting recommendations of the Task Force was the creation of the Center for the Prevention of School Violence.
For two years, the CPSV existed as part of the Governor's Crime Commission. In 1995, it was moved to North Carolina State University so that research resources could be used, and its impact could be expanded. In 1998, the Center was folded into newly established Center for School Leadership Development under the University of North Carolina's General Administration. It operated from this framework until its transfer to the newly-established N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 2000.
The Center began with the purpose of providing information, program assistance and research and evaluation expertise. Its initial clientele were members of the education and law enforcement communities. As time passed, the CPSV was able to develop expertise on the many issues which fall into the realm of school violence. The CPSV established a widely recognized definition of school violence and put into words its vision for safer schools. The CPSV's Safe Schools Pyramid was developed, and its emphasis of comprehensive approaches to school safety that rely on data-driven processes rather than quick-fix programs was molded. Because it was one of the nation's first state school safety centers, it was increasingly turned to as a resource by people outside of North Carolina.
The provision of information and technical assistance to schools and communities continue to be tasks pursued by the Center, but also served as a resource for the Division of Juvenile Justice and its initiatives. As part of the division, it also pursued and emphasized early prevention efforts that included focusing upon violence prevention for younger children, precursor behaviors that lead to violence, and the modification of adult attitudes and actions. The Center also served as a facilitator of collaborative efforts that are needed to ensure that schools are safe and all youth are provided opportunities to develop in positive ways.
Until the CPSV closed its doors in 2010 due to funding cuts, it was an entity that other states and the national media turned to in times of crisis.