Student Safety and Emergencies
Nothing is more important to us than keeping our students safe. Here are some of our policies to protect your children.
Lost and Missing Children
Very rarely, a child may leave home in the morning but not arrive at school or may leave school but not return home. If your child is lost or missing, call the school first. If no one answers, call “911.” Also call School Safety Services, 617-635-8000. School Safety officers will work with the Boston Police (and the BPS Transportation Department if your child receives transportation service) and will keep you informed until your child is found.
If a student is sick or injured at school, the school will make every effort to reach the parent or the emergency contact person named on the student’s emergency card on file in the office. The principal and school nurse will decide what action to take. Most illnesses and injuries that occur during the school day are minor and can be treated by the nurse. If the student’s condition is very serious, the nurse, principal, or another member of the school staff will call for an ambulance. A school employee will stay with the student in the ambulance and will remain at the hospital, preferably until the parent arrives. However, if a parent does not arrive within a reasonable amount of time, the emergency room of the hospital takes responsibility for the student.
Cori/Sori Checks For School Volunteers
All school volunteers and chaperones on field trips must undergo a CORI/SORI check before participating. CORI is Criminal Offender Record Information. SORI is Sex Offender Record Information.
Release of Students to Adults Other than the Parent
Schools will not allow anyone other than a child’s custodial parents/guardians to take the child away from school. If you want a relative, friend, or care provider to pick up your child at school, you must give written permission or call the school. If you call, the principal must verify that it was the parent/guardian making the call. The individual must show identification before the school will release the student.
If you want to have a private transportation service take your child to or from school, you must fill out and sign a form, “Parent Permission to Release Students to Authorized Persons.” You can get it from the school office or on the BPS website. The BPS is not responsible for accidents or injuries to students who use non-BPS transportation. Please see page 38 for more information.
When a Child Is not Picked Up at School
The school principal or a responsible staff person knows which students take the bus, which students are allowed to walk home by themselves, and which students are picked up regularly by a parent or another adult.
The principal is responsible for making sure all children arrive home safely. When a child is not picked up at school, the principal will try to reach the parent or emergency contact person. After 5:00 p.m., BPS staff may contact the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF) to take custody of the child.
When a student is repeatedly not picked up at school, the principal will file a 51A (see “Child Abuse and Neglect” below).
Child Abuse and Neglect
If school staff suspects that a student is being abused or neglected, they are required by law (M.G.L. Chapter 119, Section 51A) and BPS policy to report it to the Mass. Department of Children & Families (DCF). All reports are strictly confidential. DCF maintains a 24-hour Hotline: 1-800-792-5200.
The BPS policy also gives procedures for how schools will respond to reports of child abuse or neglect, including cooperating with DCF investigations.
It is sometimes necessary to change a student’s school assignment to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for that student.
Students who are victims of a serious physical, emotional, and/or electronically transmitted assault, or who are victims of a violent criminal offense while on school property, on school buses, or at school-sponsored activities, are eligible for a safety transfer to another school.
Students attending a school designated as “unsafe or persistently dangerous” by the Mass. Dept. of Elementary & Secondary Education may transfer to a safe school. At the time this Guide was printed, no Boston public school had this designation.
To request a safety transfer, the parent/guardian must complete and sign the “Safety Transfer Request Form” and submit it to the headmaster, principal, or program director for review and recommendation. Contact the headmaster or principal for more information.
School Access Control
Student and staff safety is not only of paramount importance in its own right; it is also a critical prerequisite to learning. With school violence continuing as a frightening reality around the country, Boston Public Schools are expected to develop plans to ensure the safety of all students and provide a safe and secure educational environment.
Each school in the district must, through its School Safety Contingency Plan, have a clear and comprehensive school access control protocol in place. School access control plans must adhere. SAF-12 (Superintendent Circular).
Under federal law, school staff may search a student if they suspect the student possesses evidence that shows either a violation of law or a violation of school rules. In order to reasonably suspect something, school officials must have enough facts to establish that the suspicion is likely to be true.
In determining whether and how to conduct a student search, school officials must use common sense and good judgment. They should consider such factors as the danger posed by the object being sought; the likelihood of the evidence being disposed of or destroyed; and the age, sex, and prior disciplinary record of the student.
Student searches must follow these and other guidelines:
Only administrators who are authorized under the Code of Conduct to suspend students from school should conduct student searches.
If the school administrator believes that a student may possess a firearm, weapon, dangerous object, or drugs, or otherwise fears that a search would jeopardize his or her safety, the administrator should notify the Boston School Police and the Boston Police Department, and a police officer must be present during the search.
Authorized staff should search only students of the same sex.
The search normally should be limited to those areas and objects that could reasonably be expected to contain the item(s) being sought, such as a locker, jacket pockets, or backpack.
Some schools use metal detectors as part of their overall safety plan. The school community, School Site Council, and principal/headmaster decide together if the school will use metal detectors. The policy must be in writing and must be reviewed by the BPS Legal Office.
- Student searches: Circular SAF-01
- Metal detectors: Circular SAF-07
- School Access Control: Circular SAF-12.
Whole-School or Community Emergencies
Each Boston public school has a plan for action in case of a disaster or community emergency. The school’s emergency preparedness plan is designed for the individual characteristics of that school.
It is important for parents and guardians to be aware that there is a plan for each of their children’s schools, particularly the plan for reuniting parents with their children if the school has to be evacuated.
Occasionally, with the cooperation of the Boston Police Department, we ask schools to increase their level of security because of a possible disturbance in the neighborhood. This proactive measure is called “safe mode.”
When this happens, it simply means that visitors are not allowed into the building, students and staff are not allowed to leave, and existing security measures are reinforced. Teaching and learning may continue (depending on the disturbance) in classrooms when these extra security measures are activated. We want to assure our BPS families that the safety of our students and staff is our highest priority at all times. So that everyone in the school is familiar with the procedure, we practice drills in every school.
If you have any questions about these procedures, please contact the principal or headmaster of your child’s school.
If there is an emergency:
Call 911 and/or one of these BPS numbers:
- School Safety 617-635-8000
- Transportation 617-635-9520
Keep Your Child’s Emergency Information Up to Date
Be sure the school has CURRENT information.
- Parent/guardian’s home, work, and cell phone numbers
- Email address
- The best number for you to receive automated phone calls
- Current address
- An emergency contact person with current phone number and address (if the parent cannot be reached)
- Health insurance information
Call the school right away if there are any changes.