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

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...

Appellate Court Rules that a Report Prepared By a Third-Party, Non-Governmental Entity Is a Public Record

By:William Curley III -

October 2015 Number 63 In Pasadena Police Officers Association v. Superior Court (PPOA), (2015) 240 Cal. App. 4th 268, the California Court of Appeal held that an investigative report commissioned by the City of Pasadena but drafted by third party is a public record subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). Additionally, the appellate court closely scrutinized redactions to the report, which were based on a recognized exemption to the CPRA, and held that the tr...

Court Rules That Data From Automated License Plate Reader Searches Are Not Discoverable Under The Public Records Act

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen -

July 2015 Number 35 An appellate court recently held that data generated from automated license plate recognition systems are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act. The Public Records Act exempts certain types of records from disclosure, including records of law enforcement investigations under Government Code section 6254, subdivision (f). In American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California et al. v. Superior Court (2015) 2015 Cal.App. Lexis 378, the court e...

Violence Against Women Act Calls for New Policies on Campus

By:Trevin Sims, Steve Ngo -

March 2013 Number 12 On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which provides sweeping changes to key aspects of college and university disclosure and reporting mandates. Section 304 of the law, titled "Campus Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Education and Prevention," made significant revisions to the Clery Act provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965, requiring, among other things: ...

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).)

Agencies


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


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