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

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

By:Trevin Sims, Joshua Whiteside -

August 2018 Number 38 The 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 report The FBI report, which was issued in June, is part of an FBI initiative to understand why shootings in confined and populated areas, like s...

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

By:Sloan Simmons, Trevin Sims, Kate Holding -

July 2018 Number 33 UPDATE:The Governor has vetoed AB 3120, which is another bill related to this subject and referenced below, but distinct from SB 1053. His veto message can be found here. In 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 in...

Immigration Enforcement Actions in California

By:Sloan Simmons, Manuel Martinez, Kristy Boyes -

March 2018 Number 9 In recent weeks, media outlets have reported on immigration raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that targeted various areas in California. These raids have focused on the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Sacramento areas. Other reports have confirmed ICE agents raiding dozens of 7-Eleven stores throughout the nation, and serving notices of inspection at 77 Northern California businesses within San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. As these en...

Proposition 64: Legal and Practical Considerations

By:Lee Burdick, Dulcinea Grantham, Jenell Van Bindsbergen -

December 2016 Number 87 On November 8, 2016, California voters passed the "Control, Regulation and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act" ("Prop. 64"), legalizing recreational marijuana use for those 21 years old and older. The new law, effective immediately, among many other provisions does the following related to marijuana: Establishes a regulatory scheme for cultivation, distribution, sale, testing and use; Allows for personal cultivation of up to six plants inside a private home; P...

Identifying, Investigating and Responding to School Bullying in Modern Times

By:Trevin Sims, Darren Kameya -

While school bullying is not a new phenomenon, the media attention upon school shootings and suicides alleged to involve bullying victims is greater than ever. According to the experts, school bullying has widespread and harmful impacts on victims and other students, and it can push a student down the path toward self-harm or causing harm to others. School districts now see bullying as a major concern that must be confronted, rather than avoided, and they have increased efforts to discourage,...

Employer’s Mistaken Belief Is No Defense to an Employee’s First Amendment Challenge to Discipline for His Off-Duty Political Activity

By:Darren Kameya, Stephanie White -

May 2016 Number 32 Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Heffernan v. City of Paterson (April 26, 2016, No. 14-1280) 578 U.S. __ [2016 U.S. LEXIS 2924] that an employee may challenge an employer’s adverse action under the First Amendment even if the employer’s action was based on a mistaken perception that an employee engaged in political activity. The decision impacts government employers, including school districts, county offices of education, and local governments by giving g...

Tactical Response Plans and SB 707: Are Your Schools Prepared to Evaluate and Respond to Threats?

By:Trevin Sims -

February 2016 Number 8 Recently, various school district officials nationwide received anonymous communications threatening violent attacks. These events, and the school districts' responses, highlight the importance of having appropriate plans in place to evaluate and respond to threats. The California Education Code establishes the basic framework for school districts to take steps to make schools safe. Each school in a district is required to develop a comprehensive school safety plan "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 Preventing and Responding to School Violence (2nd Edition)
International Association of Chiefs of Police
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 (2008)
California Emergency Management Agency
School Emergency Planning and Safety Page
California Emergency Management Agency
Natural Disaster Response Resources
Association of California School Administrators