• ABEC Special Event

  • 1st Annual School Safety Conference

    It’s Everybody’s Business!


    "I thought the information, especially regarding how to possibly avoid a catastrophic situation using positive, people-building skills, to be very thought provoking! I also came away with many ideas of how my school can improve safety."

    "One of the best I have ever attended!  Scope, quality of speakers gave people a multi-faceted view of the issue. Ground breaking – Thank you!"

    "Incredible information!"

    "Good insight – different perspectives on issue."

    "The presenters and panel were so diverse and experts both locally & nationally."

    "The wide range of backgrounds and sources represented, the wealth of knowledge in one place at one time is outstanding."


    Presented by:  The Arizona Business & Education Coalition in partnership with Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone and the Arizona School Administrators. 

    Date:  Friday, April 26

    Time:  8:30 AM through 3 PM

    Location:  Madison Center for the Arts, 5601 N. 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ, 85016.

    As Dr. Joseph V. Erardi, former School Superintendent, Newtown, CT., said recently in a conversation with Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone and Mr. Dick ForemanEvery state across the country should be modelling what you are doing here with this conference.”  

    And at the conference, Dr. Erardi stated: "This conference is the only one like it in America that is occurring before the tragedy..." and encouraged us to keep the work going.

    Download Dr. Erardi's presentation (slide deck)  here. 

    View Channel 12's (KPNX, NBC local affiliate) story on the event here. 

    Download Agenda here.

    Download Mr. Andre Simons' (FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit) presentation (slide deck) here.

    Also provided by Mr. Simons: 

    • Two page quick reference guide on pre-attack behaviors of shooters 
    • A Study of the Pre-attack Behaviors of Active Shooters between 2000 and 2013 (full report, 30 pages)
    • Making Prevention a Reality: Identify, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks (full report, 129 pages)


    A Few Highlights from the Day

    Mark Sullivan, former Director, U.S. Secret Service  (Mr. Sullivan's bio here)

    • ARIZONA and ABEC are doing a first in gathering almost all the groups that are needed, under one roof, to help solve this challenging problem.  (Attendees included educators, law enforcement, mental health professionals, policy makers, community and business leaders.)
    • Must join lanes (no silos) to produce safe, secure, welcoming, effective schools --  is the challenge and opportunity of this conclave.
    • What does school safety mean? ...gun violence, drug free, bullying free, gang free, sexual predator free? All of the above.  Solve for all these, as they contribute to feeling safe and secure in the learning environment.
    • Must build a prevention and intervention model by forming collaborative teams like a baseball team and all positions needed. Multi agency is critical to prevention model.
    • Everyone in the environment should be an INTELLIGENCE OFFICER feeding information in to the proper members of the team.
    • Must PREPARE a plan, COMMUNICATE the plan to all, must TEST the plan, and must PRACTICE the plan. 
    • ALIGN resources against highest risk and threat….ALL should know their role and how to act in an emergency.
    • Practice must become muscle memory.
    • Leverage each other’s knowledge and resources.
    • EVERYONE must know, who to call, what to do, and where to be.

    Dr. William Beverly, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral Health Sciences and Counseling Faculty, South Mountain Community College  (Dr. Beverly's bio here.)

    • Many Diversion programs available from County for first offenders.  County jails are largest institutions for providing mental health.  SCHOOLS may have the largest need and need for early identification and intervention resources.
    • The Center for Rural Mental Health at University of Missouri has plans and good helps for the rural part of our State.
    • Need loan forgiveness for mental health professionals willing to work in rural, hard to fill positions.
    • Mental Health Checkup is needed every year, not because something is wrong but because we want to stay healthier, same as physical and dental.

    Mr. Andre Simons, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group, Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)  (Mr. Simons bio here.)

    • We must focus on the prevention of targeted violence and early data and identification to prevent people on that path.
    • Look for mental health stressors, bullying, job, school, marriage, isolation, money, are the precursors.
    • Look at behaviors, social media posts, grievances as possible indicators of needed help and support
    • Bystanders are critical to noticing this kind of behavior and giving it to proper authorities. 
    • Notoriety is craved.
    • Resources include Salem-Kaiser school district plan, www.studentthreatassesment.org , Virginia student threat assessment, Behavioral Threat Assessment Center(BTAC).

    Dr. Joseph Erardi, Ed.D., former School Superintendent, Newtown, CT.  (Dr. Erardi's bio here.)

    • We need to know our most complex kids and help early, the Chief School Officer and the Chief Law Official must build trust, plan, communicate talk to the Public together. 
    • A Gap analysis of the most-safe and the least safe of our schools must be analyzed and the gap reduced.
    • It is critical and essential that the Chief School Officer/Superintendent and the Chief Law Officer have built a strong relationship, over time, that has secured trust between them so can plan and communicate with one voice to their public, in preparation times, training times, and times of emergency.  It is important they appear together as they seek support and resources and as they calm and lead their constituent communities. Public trust is hard to secure and sustain and these two leadership positions must carry that mantle for their communities, parents and children.  


    The Honorable Paul Penzone, Maricopa County Sheriff  (Sheriff Paul Penzone's bio here.)

    • Nothing should limit our imagination, our commitment or the level of resources we are willing to dedicate to accomplishing school safety.  Today is a conversation to bring stakeholders together, and tomorrow it needs to lead to action.
    • “I  don’t want to be the community who has a sense of urgency because we waited for a something to happen. I want to be prepared so we mitigate as many of these circumstances as possible so we never have to speak to them."


    Mr. Rick MillerFounder & CEO, Kids at Hope and Professor of Practice, ASU’s Center for the Advanced Study and Practice of HOPE (Mr. Miller's bio here.)

    • “It takes a village to raise an educated child”, How do you prevent the spread of Hopelessness for children?  Kids do better when you believe in them than the reverse.  Kids do better who have meaningful relationships with caring adults in the school.  Kids need to have, “Mental Time Travel” to consider what kind of family life, hobbies, friends, careers and education they may want.  “Who do you want to be when you grow up” not just what do you want to be when you grow up.”  
    • Hope is learned and needs to be present in our kids minds and hearts.

    Ms. Kelli Donley Williams, Suicide Prevention Specialist, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS)  (Ms. Williams bio here.)

    • …is happy to partner with any school district with a plan for mental health, leverage resources, etc.


    And a few other notables:

    • Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has a 3 million-dollar behavioral health effort.
    • We as a unified task force need to have a base plan that provides a template, road map of training and resource guide and checklist for all of our districts, that is customizable.
    • The TRUST (Arizona School Risk Retention Trust) has many resources currently available for Districts to ASSESS, Plan and Train for many of these issues. These prevention plans can cut the cost of insurance to help pay for some prevention resources.
    • "We won’t just be judged by our actions, but by what we failed to do, and we can’t afford to fail our children.”


    "The great thing about this convening is that it really allowed the time for a deep dive into the complex issues surrounding school safety for both school and law enforcement agencies.  This convening was desperately needed and is leading the charge in stronger school safety efforts.