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

California Expands Public Access to Police Records

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Jessica Mejorado -

October 2021Number 32Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 16 on September 30, 2021, expanding the types of police officer records subject to disclosure pursuant to a public records request. This is an expansion of provisions enacted in SB 1421, that went into effect on January 1, 2019. (See 2018 Client News Brief Number 60.) SB 1421 increased public access to certain police records related to incidents of discharge of a weapon at a person, incidents involving great bodily injury or death, ...

Face Coverings Still Required in Certain Circumstances under New Rules

By:Karen Rezendes, Joshua Whiteside -

June 2021Number 10The past two weeks have seen a flurry of changing guidance regarding the use of face masks at workplaces and schools. On June 17, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted revised COVID-19 workplace rules and the Governor signed Executive Order N-09-21 making these rules effective immediately. The same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals to address changing rules on ...

CDPH Guidance for Schools Creates Challenges and New Reopening Criteria

By:Michelle Cannon, Joshua Whiteside -

February 2021Number 3On January 14, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued new guidance (the Guidance) for all of California's local educational agencies (LEAs), including county offices of education, school districts, charter schools, and private schools, including nonpublic and nonsectarian schools. The Guidance includes new guidelines affecting how LEAs should proceed with providing in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, redefines wha...

CAL OSHA Implements Temporary Emergency Regulations

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Mayra Sandoval -

December 2020Number 84The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recently adopted new COVID-19 emergency temporary standards. The temporary standards became effective on November 30, 2020, and expire October 2, 2021. The temporary standards apply to almost all employers and places of employment, with very few exceptions. The exceptions include workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people, employees who work from home, and certain e...

Bullying Victims Granted Expanded Transfer Rights

By:Ruth Mendyk, Crystal Pizano -

October 20, 2020Number 74Assembly Bill (AB) 1127 amended Education Code section 46600 to now require California school districts to approve intradistrict and interdistrict transfer requests by victims of an act of bullying. Previously, Education Code section 46600 simply gave priority for an interdistrict transfer request from a student who was the victim of bullying. These new requirements became effective January 1, 2020, but are now more relevant as students begin to return to campus.Intra...

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...

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