You Ask, We Answer: Protecting Your School and Campus Communities Webinar Q&A

shared values // Brian Gleason on Tuesday April 18, 2017

With school crime and violence on the rise, it’s extremely important for your school to take the proper security measures to protect students, staff and everyone else affiliated with your organization.  

Just last week there was a fatal shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California. GuideOne’s thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this heartbreaking event.  

The event serves as a reminder that while safety plans are essential, unfortunate events are sometimes out of our control. On April 12, 2017, GuideOne Insurance hosted a webinar that highlighted strategies for preventing crime and violence in schools. The webinar sparked many questions from our viewers. Our featured speaker, GuideOne Senior Risk Manager Brian Gleason, has the answers.  

Q: What do you see as the most significant emerging issues facing schools today?

A: Schools are facing a number of significant issues. Campus security, concussions and compliance issues with matters like Title IX are the most serious issues that I am seeing among the schools I am presently working with.

Q What recommendations do you have for how students can protect themselves?

A: This is a great question. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. At the elementary school level we teach “stranger danger” (both in person and online). For older students there are a variety of techniques. Situational awareness is always important. Be aware of your surroundings and realize that you are not invincible. Going for a jog at midnight by yourself is not the wisest idea. It’s also helpful to walk with a purpose and be alert. As you are walking to your car, stay off your phone so you can hear what’s happening around you and carry your keys in your hand ready to open the door. Many of our schools teach a variety of self-defense techniques – when your life is threatened, be loud and fierce! Self-defense equipment like pepper spray may be appropriate in some circumstances, but please check your state and local laws as many jurisdictions have specific limitations on these.

Q: What’s the best way for a risk manager to better help their institute create a more comprehensive culture of safety on campus?

A: A culture of safety is important on any campus and it starts at the top. If possible, have senior administrators address this at new student orientation and other large gatherings. Catch \phrases like, “if you see something, say something” help get the message across. Environmental design and maintenance techniques also show a culture of safety. By replacing burnt-out light bulbs, removing graffiti and replacing broken windows, you show both your campus constituents and your neighbors that you value your property and will protect it. Recruit safety champions as well. It’s a slow process, but sharing your passion for the safety of your campus community at every chance you get will eventually show the importance. When surveyed, most parents said the safety and security of their student was either as important as or more important than the academics of a school. An emphasis on security will actually make you more competitive when recruiting students.

Q: What is the most common mistake you see schools making with regard to safety?

A: This is an area where it’s difficult to do the wrong thing. The most serious mistake you can make is to do nothing. I would encourage you to assess the safety of your campus, preferably with the assistance of your local law enforcement. Then develop a plan to start working on the issues you discover. I realize that finances and resources are limited, but if you take small steps you can begin to make improvements.

Q: Would arming a security team create a need for increased insurance coverage?

A: Arming a security team does increase your exposure. You are specifically giving your employees the permission and direction to use deadly force at their discretion. This is something you will want to discuss with your insurance agent. Your carrier will need some information about how many individuals you will be arming and what policies and procedures you have in place. Based on that, they can help you put the appropriate coverage in place and let you know what additional premium that would incur.

Have another question regarding school safety or a similar topic? Send your question to and we’ll answer it in an upcoming blog post. 

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Brian Gleason

Brian Gleason

Brian Gleason is the Senior Risk Manager for Education at GuideOne Insurance, providing resources and consulting services to GuideOne clients in the education niche. Prior to his career at GuideOne, Brian spent twenty years in risk management for a Christian university in California. Brian has his MBA along with years of experience in insurance, enterprise risk management, occupational health and safety and emergency preparedness and response. 

How to Increase Building Security at Your School

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 08:55
“The best defense is a good offense.” Though this saying is typically used in sports scenarios, it rings especially true when it comes to school safety. The more emphasis you put on securing school grounds, the better off you’ll be at minimizing risk.

Experts suggest that you can enhance your school’s physical safety with the following strategies: