Working Together for Safer Schools Across ESD 113

School children cross the road

When it comes to school safety in Capital Region ESD 113, collaboration is vital. Whether between the ESD and school districts or a school and local emergency services, working together yields better results.

Collaboration between ESD 113’s Comprehensive School Safety Coordinator Dan Beaudoin and Tumwater School District ultimately led to Tumwater School District hiring Stephan Derout as its Safety and Security Manager.

Before hiring Derout, the district worked with contractors and its own staff to manage its safety plan. With him in the fold, they now have a centralized figure in charge and can take a different approach to school security.

“The district had a decent plan,” says Derout. “It was a more reactive plan, like what to do if there’s an earthquake, lockdown situation, or things like that, but there was nothing really about mitigation preparedness.”

Many districts have the same need to modernize their safety plans, and ESD 113’s Comprehensive School Safety Plans and Emergency Operating Procedures (EOPs) is a tool to help in this essential work. Knowing the signs of preventable issues and planning for them is as important as what to do if something transpires.

Beaudoin says that most districts have safety plans in place, but sometimes updates can fall by the wayside when there isn’t a centralized person in charge like Derout. 

“My big goal right now is to ensure that all 44 school districts have something,” said Beaudoin. “There’s a couple that don’t have anything. Some may have something that’s ten years old. So, my big message to the school districts is to find what you have and get it up to date as soon as possible.”

“Each school can’t have as elaborate a plan as I’m working on right now,” adds Derout. “The Comprehensive Safety Plan I’m putting together is going to be between 150 and 200 pages. Each site or school cannot have that because they need to be able to react immediately. But this plan will be something any school administrator can reach into, or we can have support services improving preparedness.”

Collaboration was vital in creating Tumwater School District’s Comprehensive Safety Plan. This is especially important if unique dangers like railroads or coastlines are nearby. They had CISA (the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), a division of the FBI, do a site risk assessment. Through that, they were able to shed new light on some of the potential risks at the high school and prioritize.

“Start meeting monthly,” Beaudoin says of district and school safety committees. “Try to involve law enforcement. Involve EMTs and the fire department when you’re doing EOP; have nurses involved in your safety committee. Do you still have an MOU with the church down the street so you can come at a moment’s notice if you need to evacuate? It’s important to have these meetings weekly.”

ESD 113’s Comprehensive School Safety program often schedules training and provides materials — like the draft EOP — to districts. Derout attended five such classes when he first began at Tumwater and says he has had far more contact with ESD 113 than with the ESD in his previous school district.

“It’s something new and I appreciate that with Tumwater,” Derout says. “From the community to the staff working here, everyone is really there to improve safety and security for the staff and students.”