Today, keeping communities and schools safe is more challenging than ever for the agencies and officials charged with doing so. With active-shooters, cyber-terrorism, bio-terrorism, natural disasters, and other threats, safety planning and management requires an all-risks approach and an understanding of a wide range of laws. Also critical is communication and coordination between the various public agency stakeholders, include schools, police, cities, counties, fire, special districts, state agencies and federal authorities.

Areas of Practice

Our Public Safety Practice group draws from our decades of experience representing schools, cities, police, fire, and various other public agencies to provide integrated advice to our clients on safety-related issues. Areas in which the group provides advice include:

  • Natural Disaster Response and Recovery
  • Active-shooter response
  • Threat assessment
  • School safety planning
  • Bullying prevention, investigation and response
  • NIMS and SEMS
  • Crises management and communication
  • Interagency coordination
  • Information sharing under privacy laws
  • Search and seizure
  • Workplace violence

New Law Requires All School Security Officers To Receive POST Training

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen -

November 2019Number 68Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 390 on October 2, 2019. The bill will take effect on July 1, 2021. SB 390 will require all school security officers employed by a school district, charter school, county office of education, or community college district to complete a course of training developed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services of the Department of Consumer Affairs in consultation with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P...

Ninth Circuit Upholds Decision To Expel Student For Creating A “Hit List” And Solidifies Standard For Student Discipline For Off-Campus Expression.

By:Sarah Garcia -

June 2019Number 30Confirming a point which seems to make good sense, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that school officials may discipline students for the student's off-campus expression, where the expression constitutes a credible, identifiable threat to others in the school community, even if the student did not intend to communicate such speech to any third party.BackgroundIn McNeil v. Sherwood School District 88J, the personal journal of a sophomore high school student, CLM, w...

California Passes New Laws to Protect Student-Athletes AED’s Required by July 1, 2019

By:Thomas Gauthier, Kyle Raney -

February 2019Number 13In the wake of several high profile deaths of high school student-athletes, California recently enacted two new laws aimed at improving school responses to heart and heat-related emergencies involving students.Assembly Bill (AB) 2009 Given that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among young athletes, AB 2009 requires school districts and charter schools that offer interscholastic athletics to have written, posted emergency action plans in place and t...

Settlement Addresses Discriminatory Treatment of Minority Students and Students with Disabilities

By:Thomas Manniello -

February 2019Number 11A settlement agreement was recently reached between the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Stockton Unified School District (District) to address discriminatory treatment of minority students and students with disabilities. The agreement resolves a comprehensive investigation conducted by the DOJ, which found that the District's policies and practices with respect to law enforcement referrals discriminated against African-American and Latino students as well ...

Governor Approves New Public Safety Laws Affecting Cities, Schools and Other Public Agencies

By:Trevin Sims, Kyle Raney -

November 2018 Number 81 In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed three new bills addressing public agency response to disasters and emergencies including school violence. Senate Bill (SB) 833: Emergency Alerts In response to the unprecedented 2017 wildland fire disasters, SB 833 aims to improve California's emergency alert system by requiring the Office of Emergency Services (OES) to develop guidelines for alerting and warning the public of an emergency. At a minimum, the Guid...

The FBI and Secret Service Issue New Guidance on Addressing School Violence and Active Shooters

By:Trevin Sims, Joshua Whiteside -

August 2018Number 38The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the United States Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) have released two important documents that offer insight into the pre-attack behavior of shooters and advice to help prevent targeted school violence through the use of threat assessments.The FBI reportThe FBI report, which was issued in June, is part of an FBI initiative to understand why shootings in confined and populated areas, like schools, occur ...

Legislature Stops Local Agencies from Limiting the Presentation of Childhood Sexual Abuse Claims

By:Sloan Simmons, Trevin Sims, Kate Holding -

July 2018Number 33In response to a recent state court case, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 1053 to explicitly prohibit local agencies from adopting local claim procedures that limit the presentation of childhood sexual abuse claims. The law, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 23, goes into effect January 1, 2019.BackgroundCode of Civil Procedure section 340.1 allows a lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse to be filed within the later of eight years of the date t...

Laws & Regulations

School duty to provide a safe environment for students and employees. (Cal. Const., Art. 1, Section 28(f)(1).)
Comprehensive school safety plan requirements. (Education Code sections 32280 to 32289.)
Closed session meeting with law enforcement regarding tactical elements of safety plan. (Education Code section 32281(f)(3); Government Code section 54957.)
Standardized Emergency Management System (“SEMS”) requirements for schools. (The Petris Bill)(Government Code section 8607; Title 19, California Code of Regulations, Sections 2400-2450.)
School employee designation as disaster service workers. (Government Code Section 3100.)
Facilities master plan safety-related elements. (Education Code section 16011; Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 14000.)
Schools are required by both federal statute and state regulation to be available for shelters following a disaster.
Child abuse reporting requirements. (
Penal Code Section 11164.)
Discrimination and harassment policies and procedures. (Education Code sections 200 to 234.5.)
Discipline for terroristic threats. (Education Code Section 48900.7.)
Release of student record information in an emergency. (Education Code Section 49076 (a)(2)(A).)


California Department of Education - Provides guidance on safety planning as well as safety-related collaboration with constituents and partners.
California Emergency Management Agency - The agency responsible for overseeing and coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery and homeland security activities within the state. Offers a wide range of training, information and assistance to schools in emergency preparedness.
Department of Homeland Security - This federal department is responsible for securing the United States from a number of threats, including preventing terrorism, enforcing immigration, ensuring resilience to disasters, safeguarding cyberspace, and securing the country’s borders.
United States Department of Education - Offers guidance in creating physically and emotionally safe learning environments.
Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) - Provides a wide variety of training & guidance for schools to strengthen their emergency management capacity.
Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission - Offers information and guidance for earthquake preparedness.

Planning Guides

Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Brief (July 2018)
National Threat Assessment Center - Brief
Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model (July 2018)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security; United States Secret Service; National Threat Assessment Center - Guide
A Study of the Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States Between 2000 and 2013
U.S. Department of Justice; Federal Bureau of Investigation
School and Firearm Safety Action Plan (May, 2018)
State of Texas: Governor Greg Abbot
Safe Schools: A Planning Guide for Action Workbook (2002 Edition)
California Department of Education
Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (June 2013)
United States Department of Education
Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills (December 2014)
National Association of School Psychologists & National Association of School Resource Officers
Primer to Design Safe School Projects in Case of Terrorist Attacks and School Shooting (2012)
Department of Homeland Security
National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities
Active Shooter Guidebook: How to Respond (2016)
California Emergency Management Agency
School Emergency Planning and Safety Page
California Emergency Management Agency
Natural Disaster Response Resources
Association of California School Administrators