Risk Management
  • Risk Intelligence: A New Approach By:

    Editor’s Note: This article is a continuation of last month’s “Highly Risk Intelligence School Districts” by Lee Gaby. Please see the August 2022 edition online at school-busride.com for that article. The concept of risk intelligence can be understood as practices that go before, along with, and beyond risk management. Whenever there is a concern for safety and security, there is also the necessity of risk intelligence. Conventional risk management usually falls short in advancing better decision-making processes related to district operations and instructional strategies. When risk is defined only as the failure to adequately protect existing assets and prevent loss  the rewards of reasoned, calculated risk taking  are often neglected at potentially high cost to the district’s future success. The concept of risk intelligence can be understood as practices that go before, along with, and beyond risk management. Whenever there is a concern for safety and security, there is also the necessity of risk intelligence. Conventional risk management usually falls short in advancing better decision-making processes related to district operations and instructional strategies. When risk is defined only as the failure to adequately protect existing assets and prevent loss  the rewards of reasoned, calculated risk taking  are often neglected at potentially high cost to the district’s future success.  Risk intelligence is an antidote for excessive fear and doubt. While the protection of existing assets is necessary, it is not sufficient for student achievement. Nor is crisis management a desirable means for creating opportunities for today’s students as they grow to become tomorrow’s citizens.  Organizational strategists apply risk intelligence when discussing integrative systems. It belongs in any conversation about improving readiness, reliability, resilience, agility, governance, compliance, strategy, value creation, well-being and leadership. Ultimately, everyone in the district has a role to play, because risk-related decisions are made daily at every level of the K12 educational enterprise. Highly Risk Intelligent is the Way Forward Improving consequential decision making in order to meet the expectations of stakeholders is an imperative for K12 leaders.  Best practice models for thinking and acting are frequently depicted as three-dimensional and operational at the same time on multiple levels. The metaphor of a “three level chess game” can also be useful in explaining the shared mindset needed in district to be highly risk intelligent.  A 3D framework for risk intelligence is suggested in this case, and it should operate at four levels as follows:  • At the first level – the base of outcomes – the three dimensions of risk intelligence are readiness, reliability and resilience.  • At the second level – the means of activation- the three dimensions of risk intelligence are holistic thinking, common language about risk, and predictive tools.  • At the third level – core of learning – the three dimensions of risk intelligence are concepts, supports and skills. • At the fourth level – structure of agency – the three dimensions of risk intelligence are personal, team and enterprise. As shown here, the use of a tetrahedron helps illustrate the 3D framework. Five Levels of Risk Intelligence Maturity Districts should understand how to monitor the growth and application of risk intelligence. A sound measurement process will help ensure that assessments are performed to properly gauge whether exposures exist in the right mix, consistent with thoughtful reflection on a reasonable “risk appetite.” Ultimately, Risk Intelligence should be treated as a component of the district’s student achievement and fiscal health balanced scorecard.   Mature risk intelligence is a function of sound risk governance and leadership. This requires a top-down view of district wide strategies and programs, led by the Superintendent and the Board. Maturity also means bottom-up engagement, where teams identify and monitor the growth of their risk intelligence. Risk intelligence should be embedded in the fiber and fabric of school and district wide culture. The Education Risk Intelligence Center has begun designing a Risk Intelligence Maturity Model to serve as a roadmap for accelerating the journey from an existing baseline of risk intelligence to a position as a highly risk intelligent district. Maturity in this context is the ability to fully understand the environment and advance consistently toward district goals and objectives.   At the Sustaining Level of maturity, the district has completely moved to an integrated approach to readiness, reliability and resilience that includes an understanding of exposures and risk treatment in the context of performance and objectives. Consistent risk intelligence processes span the entire district and ecosystem. 80 percent or more of current employees can apply the ten skills of school risk intelligence. Each of the five levels of maturity is described briefly in the following paragraphs. 1: Stagnant Districts at the Stagnant stage of maturity have reactive approaches to readiness, reliability and resilience, doing assessments only when mandated to do so. Administrator’s commitment to growing their risk intelligence is limited and few if any resources are allocated to professional development that increases decision-making capacity. There is almost no ownership or formal monitoring of hazards  integration of effort information and processes in context of objectives, strategy, performance, and business change. Characteristics of the Stagnant level  are: •Ad hoc or chaotic responses to risk. •Possibly strong verbal traditions, but few clearly defined policies and procedures. •Record of missed opportunities and inconsistent responses to recurring problems. •Responses based on individual heroics, capabilities, and verbal traditions. •Little or no learning captured from experience. •Individual and/or specialist reactions to adverse events and opportunities. •Discrete management roles established for a small set of risks. •Lack of coordinated response. •Lack of common language of risk and value. •Learning occurs primarily within silos, with little knowledge sharing. •Potential to experience multiple crises, often moving from one to the next.   2: Searching At the Searching levels there are some departments with some focus on risk management and business continuity within respective areas, yet they are remain disconnected and inconsistent. Information and processes are unnecessarily redundant and lack integration. The approaches to readiness, reliability and resilience are very compliance oriented and document-centric. Manual processes and absence of standardization is Read More >

Safety
  • S.B.S.W.: Share the Story of Us By:

    It’s a wonderful time of the year! So goes the song.  This wonderful time of the year happens to be the October perennial known as “School Bus Safety Week.” This is OUR week! What can we celebrate during this week? What can you do to commemorate it in your operation? Why does it matter? So, let’s start with why it matters. School transportation is a very special profession to all of us. We respect our work; we value our work; we appreciate our work. We know that our work allows children to access their educations, their futures. But the rest of the nation does not necessarily know what we know or share what we share. Our immediate past has been marked by parent frustration with late or absent buses due to the demands of the COVID pandemic and exacerbated by the throes of a dire driver shortage. That all comes on top of a long history of hesitance by school leadership to invest more heavily in non-instructional costs like transportation. And we face a near-term future where inflation will increase our operating costs and budget constraints will challenge us in managing our operations. Add to this that emerging technologies in school buses will change almost everything we do and the challenges get steeper and more significant. This means we need to do all we can to bolster our arguments on our value and worth to the education enterprise and to America’s children. School Bus Safety Week presents one such opportunity.  To the point of the substance of our story and what a GREAT story we can tell. School buses transport more than 25 million children every day. Compare this to the nation’s airlines who transport that many people every year (and I always take pains to note that we go pick up our riders while the airlines make us go to them!) That is the underlying story: we safely transport 25 million of America’s children to their education each day of the school year. The rest of the story is just as important to tell. The fact that millions of rural children can get to their schools because of the school bus. The fact that millions of students with disabling conditions or special needs can get to their schools because of the school bus. The fact that hundreds of thousands of homeless and displaced students can get to their schools because of the school bus. So many other benefits to children BECAUSE OF THE SCHOOL BUS. The other story to tell relates to the steps and efforts this industry makes to ensure that the ride to school on a yellow school bus is the safest (data-based statement) transportation mode on record. School buses are manufactured to exacting federal safety standards and inspected daily to ensure that they are road-worthy and ‘kid-worthy.’ School bus drivers are licensed in accordance with strict federal and state training and licensing requirements and their skills are regularly tested and refreshed. Drivers are also subjected to medical and physical tests, drug/alcohol testing and other regimens to ensure they are qualified to drive our nation’s children.  Taking the safety formula further, we know that our school buses travel on routes that are analyzed for not only efficiency but also safety in terms of traffic and hazards for the children. We focus on taking measures to train all members of the safety team on the skills and knowledge they need to ensure our kids are as safe as possible. Our goal is always the elimination of crashes and injuries and fatalities. Our industry is driven by the concept of ‘zero defects’ because we know that any variation from ‘zero’ means a child has been put in harm’s way and that is unacceptable. That is our story. And every time I think about it, I am overwhelmed with pride and with appreciation for the women and men who make that story a non-fiction story…who make it real. It isn’t a miracle…in fact, one clever slogan works for me every time: “safety is no accident.”  As we enter the month of October 2022 and every October from here on, let’s all take a moment in our year to share that story. At religious holidays and historical holidays, it is traditional to tell the story. The Christmas story or the Passover story or the July 4th story of the Declaration of Independence and other stories are so rich for us to tell and to pass along to the next generation.  We all need to share the awesome story of school bus safety with that kind of fervor and love. This is when we get a chance to show how much we “Love the Bus” to the public. You can share the story with parents through your school’s communication system or with your school board at a public meeting. You can celebrate your drivers and staff for their contribution to safety and let the public see you recognize and celebrate. You can share data with the public about your safety record (ever see those signs outside companies boasting of their safety record?). You can share information on the training and systems improvements you have implemented to attain that record. You can educate your school’s PTA about your work for the children and gain their support for your mission and for your drivers. And you can hold your head up high while doing so. I really love telling the story about school bus safety in October and December and March and August and every month. Please join me in celebrating the amazing yellow school bus and the most amazing human beings who make them run. We do it all for our children. There is no more noble reason for our work. Celebrate School Bus Safety Week!!  NOTE: As a public service, NHTSA has published information to support School Bus Safety Week and to remind motorists to stop for our school buses to keep our children safe. It might be useful for your Read More >

Special Needs
  • A Formula for Specialized Transportation Decision-Making at Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Meetings By:

    An Individualized Education Program, commonly known as an IEP, is a child-specific written document to ensure that a child with an identified disability attending school receives appropriate specialized instruction and related services. “Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education…”  Historically, the IEP has been described as the centerpiece of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). All aspects of the special education and related services are regulated and implemented in a child’s IEP. The IEP Team is required to address specialized transportation for a child determined eligible to receive this related service. Transportation is provided based on an individual child’s specialized transportation needs that are approved by the IEP Team prior to implementation.  The related service transportation is defined in the IDEA as follows: 1. “Travel to and from school and between schools,  2. Travel in and around school buildings, and  3. Specialized equipment (such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps), if required to provide special transportation for a child with a disability. (34 CFR §300.34 (c)(16))” There are two main parts to the IEP process: (1) the IEP team meeting(s), when parents and school district personnel make decisions about a child’s special education and related services, and (2) the IEP itself, which is a written record of the decisions agreed upon at the IEP team meeting. The IEP delineates the required resources and services to be provided to a child at no cost, and the duration and amount of services that will be provided. The IEP is used to monitor IDEA compliance for an individual child.  Specialized transportation decisions requires addressing each child’s explicit needs case by case. The following are suggested topics that may be discussed at an IEP team meeting to support a safe ride. 1. Allergies 2. Alternative Vehicle Selection  3. Climate Control Vehicle 4. Diastat Transport & Administration 5. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders 6. Driver and Attendant Assignment 7. Epi-Pen Transport & Use 8. Length of Ride Time 9. Medication Transport & Use 10. Nursing Services 11. Oxygen Transport & Use 12. Participation in Evacuation Drills 13. Pick-up and Drop-off  Location 14. Pick-up and Drop-off  Times 15. Regular versus Specialized Route Assignment 16. Required Training (Drivers & Attendant) 17. Service Animals  18. Specialized Equipment 19. Specialized Seating 20. Supervision This list is not exclusive. Additional issues and concerns may be raised by IEP team members to focus on an individual child’s specialized transportation needs.  Determining when a transportation representative should attend an IEP team meeting is a critical consideration for providing a safe ride. Transportation personnel attendance at IEP meetings may be required to provide dispatchers, drivers, attendants and other transportation personnel with imperative child specific information.  The following list of questions provides a starting point for when a transportation representative should consider attending and/or participating in an IEP team meeting? This checklist is not all inclusive. • Is this the first time a child with a disability is eligible for the related service transportation? • If a child with a disability has previously received the related service transportation has anything changed? • What transportation services are to be discussed and documented on the child’s IEP? • What is the impact of  a child’s disability on the need for specialized transportation services? -Behavior Management Issues and Concerns -Medical Issues and Concerns -Specialized Equipment Needs • Can the child with a disability ride on a regular school bus route? • Does the child require specialized transportation services? (Describe) • What is the age of the child with a disability? • What level of supervision does the child with a disability require? • Where is the IEP and related service(s) school assignment location? • What other factors may impact safe ridership? In summary, safe transportation for children with specialized transportation needs are complex and requires transportation personnel to be fully informed about an individual child’s IEP specialized transportation service needs. This can only be accomplished when transportation personnel are included in the IEP team meeting process, as appropriate.  Unequivocally, as a special needs transportation policy specialist for over 40 years and expert witness, with more than 25 years of experience, I can confidently share that too many school transportation litigation cases have ruled favorably for plaintiff’s when transportation personnel are not invited to attend the IEP Team Meeting and/or informed about transportation decisions made at an IEP meeting. A change in this irresponsible and negligent practice is long overdue. Linda F. Bluth, Ed.D. (linda.bluth@napt.org) is one of the nation’s foremost experts on special needs transportation. She currently serves as Special Needs Consultant for the National Association for Pupil Transportation® (NAPT).

Technology
  • The Connected School Bus — Where Video Becomes Safety By:

    Around 25 million students in the US hop on a school bus each weekday. Thanks to its design and the regulations around it, this vehicle is one of the safest on the road. It provides 70 times more safe arrivals at school, compared to a personal car¹. Even so, injuries occur on a daily basis and there is still an average of 128 school transportation-related fatalities annually². This is an unacceptable figure — one fatality is one too many. Parents expect more of their school districts. They want to know exactly where their children are at any moment, and the security of knowing any unexpected incident will be handled efficiently and expediently with the tools and resources that ensure the greatest safety and risk mitigation.  How do we do this? How can school bus fleet operators provide an effective service, while creating a safe environment for everyone? The Connected Bus The Connected School Bus is cloud-connected through Wi-Fi or Cellular. This connectivity provides a school district with back-office insight for improved student safety and route operations.  Having a Connected Bus enables you to: • Real-time track any bus in your fleet from anywhere. • Monitor onboard cameras to stream live video. • Deliver detailed route changes via a mobile device. • Notify parents when their children will arrive at their destination. • Access student ridership data to respond to incoming calls with accuracy. • Turn your school bus into an internet-connected mobile classroom. The Four Pillars of School Bus Connectivity Transportation Departments can opt for the services they need now and add on as their needs evolve. A fully connected bus provides value in three main areas: route safety, efficiency, and parent communication: 1 Live Tracking / Parent Notifications Increase student safety by knowing real-time location of buses. Routing integration via live GPS and a parent-friendly app keeps track of where students are during commutes to and from school. 2 Real Time Video  Respond to emergencies and violations in real-time. A secure livestream video feed can be accessed from anywhere, anytime, by the relevant authorities, to monitor ongoing onboard situations. 3 Routing & Navigation Plan, manage, and maintain routes and schedules to get students to and from school on time. Guide new drivers with turn-by-turn directions to ensure they follow planned routes, adhere to time schedules and reduce miles travelled.  4 Vehicle Inspection Streamline vehicle inspections and maintenance. Track issues as they are reported, repaired, and solved and increase vehicle uptime.  A picture is worth a thousand words. Imagine what video is worth. Clear, secure, and reliable video evidence is paramount in creating a safer environment inside the school bus. And the video systems that are part of the Connected School Bus provide a three-stage security surveillance strategy. They… • help prevent. • help respond. • help account for. The mere presence of a camera system inside the bus psychologically influences³  pro-social behavior, helping to prevent negative activities that could result in injury.  Real-time, live-streaming video can be enabled through a Connected Bus with cellular connectivity. Access to this data helps managers respond to emergency situations with more insight, accuracy, and speed. Video displays can also help bus drivers reduce blind spots inside and outside the bus. This cloud-connected platform makes it simple and easy to acquire video evidence by wirelessly connecting to buses when they are within Wi-Fi coverage or in real-time if the bus is connected through a cellular network. Safe Fleet Quality and Capability Safe Fleet is the one provider that can enable the entire Connected Bus solution. This one platform future-proofs a school district by allowing the addition of solutions as budget and needs dictate. A school district is also able to maximize on previous investments through backwards compatibility to existing Seon and Safe Fleet cameras and recorders. Safe Fleet designs, manufactures, installs, and supports more safety products on school buses that any other provider in the industry. And our focus on integrating those products using  artificial intelligence and advanced analytics means we’re uniquely qualified to help you protect students inside and outside the bus. By making school bus fleets smarter, we make students safer.  Lori Jetha is vice president, marketing, for Safe Fleet. Visit www.safefleet.net for more information. 1https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety#the-topic-school-bus-regulations 2https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/Publication/812476 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6198084/