P.O. BOX 2120




March 14, 2003



Division Superintendents



Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction



School Crisis and Emergency Management Plans


In light of recent national developments in the area of emergency preparedness, I want to call your attention to Section 22.1-279.8.D of the Code of Virginia that says: Each school board in Virginia shall ensure that every school that it supervises shall develop a written school crisis and emergency management plan In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires school divisions that receive Title IV, Part A, funds to have a crisis management plan for responding to violent or traumatic incidents on school grounds. [Section 4114(d)(7)(D)]


Both directives are very clear. Every school in Virginia must have a written crisis and emergency management plan. It must be tailored specifically for the school that it is designed to serve and it must not be developed in isolation.


Specifically, I am recommending the following:


1.  Ensure that separate school crisis and emergency management plans are developed for each building.

2.  Review the crisis plan to ensure that it includes updated information related to terrorism such as biological, radiological, and chemical attacks. Include plans for Sheltering in Place which is defined as keeping students and staff inside the building in a predetermined area.

3.  Do not work in isolation. Make sure that active partnerships are developed and maintained with public safety agencies, including law enforcement, fire, rescue, health, mental health, and local emergency managers. Planners should also include local public service agencies such as the American Red Cross.

4.  Involve and train all school staff in the design and implementation of the plan.

5.  Conduct practice drills. Develop a calendar to continue conducting drills on a regular basis.

6.  Ensure that a process is developed for communicating information about crisis plans with parents.


On March 7, 2003, the U.S. Department of Education announced the creation of a new section on the U.S. Department of Educations website -- designed to be a one-stop shop to help school officials plan for any emergency, including natural disasters, violence, and acts of terrorism.


In addition to the website, officials at the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to make available $30 million in discretionary grant funding that would provide assistance to school divisions in improving and strengthening their emergency response and crisis management plans. Funds could be used for training school personnel, parents, and students in crisis response; providing coordination with local emergency agencies, including fire and police; purchasing equipment; and coordinating with groups and organizations responsible for recovery issues, such as health and mental health agencies.


The U.S. Department of Education will announce the first round of competitive grant opportunities in early spring 2003. Interested school divisions will apply directly to the U.S. Department of Education for grants. Information will be provided on the following website: An additional $30 million is included in the proposed FY 2004 budget.


In addition, I want to call your attention to a number of Virginia- specific resources:


        Office of Commonwealth Preparedness


        Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Virginia Center for School Safety


        Virginia Department of Education Resource Guide for Crisis Management in Virginia Schools, 2002


        Model School Crisis Management Plan, 1999


        Virginia Department of Emergency Management


        Virginia Department of Health


        Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services


More than 1.1 million students are enrolled in Virginias public schools. The responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of those students is of paramount importance.


Questions may be directed to Arlene Cundiff, (, coordinator of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, at 804-225-2871.