Seattle Public Schools

Safety and Security


Safety and Security Frequently Asked Questions

What is required for schools on emergency preparation?

In the event of either a natural disaster or human-caused incident, it is the responsibility of the district, and individual schools/sites to provide the emergency organization and resources to minimize student, staff, and school community loss of life, protect school district property, continue essential functions, and return to the business of education in a timely manner.

Policy 3432 directs all schools to develop a comprehensive all hazard emergency management plan. It is the principal’s responsibility to submit a School Site Emergency Management Plan document to the District’s Safety and Security Office each fall. This includes plans for student/family reunification, a listing of staff assignments and responsibilities during an emergency, location of disaster supplies, verification of principal’s completion of FEMA training, and more.

All schools are required to comply with emergency drill requirements per RCW 28A.320.125 which include one emergency drill per month that school is in session including summer school: Visit the Washington State Legislature website for info about RCW 28A.320.125.

Emergency Drills Include:

  • Shelter-in-Place
  • Lockdown
  • Evacuation
  • Earthquake
  • Reverse Evacuation 

How does the district handle threats of violence?

All lethal or potentially lethal statements whether verbal, written, including electronic are to be taken seriously and investigated. Bomb threats or weapons on campus are considered to be threats of violence. The Safety and Security Office should be notified immediately at 206-252-0707. If student has a weapon or the threat is imminent call the Police (911).

How do I contact Safety and Security?

The Safety and Security Department is staffed 24 hours a day/365 days a year. For urgent issues contact the office by telephone at 206-252-0707.

How can I get additional emergency resources for my school?

School PTAs can apply for Department of Neighborhood Matching Funds to purchase emergency readiness supplies for their schools. A condition of this competitive grant is that the “project” needs to benefit the community, and involve the community in carrying it out. Also, the Matching Funds must be match $1 to $1, in the form of cash, donated services, donated materials, and/or volunteer hours.

PTAs have met these conditions by sponsoring community gatherings to learn about emergency preparedness, with presentations by professionals whose expertise is emergency preparedness (e.g., Red Cross). The time devoted by those attending the meeting(s) and those carrying out the project count towards the required match.

When available the district also applies for federal and state grants to enhance school readiness.

How does Seattle Public Schools work with Seattle Police Department and other emergency responders?

 Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Security interacts with Seattle Police Department (SPD) and other first responders by monitoring SPD and Seattle Fire Department (SFD) radio channels, having a dedicated telephone line to 911 dispatch and software monitoring of 911 calls originating from district telephones (except cellphones), software monitoring of  police and fire response using the Safepointe platform, coordination of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) with SPD, after action reports and SPS staff’s regular attendance at community meetings with SPD.

When are parents notified about a school emergency?

When a critical incident that impacts the school community happens at the school, parental notification is provided as soon as possible. There are times when the situation is dynamic and multiple agencies are involved, so communication is coordinated through the “lead agency” which may cause a delay in notification.

Our goal is to ensure that families understand what happened and how they can help their student cope and learn from the situation. In each message, the schools will provide as much information as is permitted by student privacy laws and has been established as “fact” as opposed to “rumors.”

If there is an incident in my school building, what should I do?

If a major critical incident happens at a school, the district will be communicating with families about what is happening and next steps. Please monitor School Messenger messages, social media, the district webpage and local media.

Because the school is responding to the emergency, frequently the school phones will not be able to be answered as their priority is student safety. On occasion, students may be placed in a “shelter in place” or a “lockdown” and parents will need to be prepared to wait to reunite with their student until the fire or police department have determined that we can release students.

In that case, the district will establish a family reunification site and communicate with families about the location. Families will be welcome to wait at this site until students are released.

How do I get a security report if my student is involved in an incident? 

Anyone can request a security report in accordance with Policy 4040 and Superintendent Procedure 4040SP. Visit our public records request webpage for more information.

When are schools supposed to call 911?

All SPS staff are authorized to call 911 in the event of any emergency. e.g. reporting of a crime, vehicle accident, medical emergency etc.

When and who may change schools school hours?

Schools may be required to change school hours because of inclement weather, prolonged power outages, or other emergencies. In each case, parents are notified per the district’s and school’s communication protocols. Only the Superintendent or their designee can change school hours.

Inclement Weather : In Seattle, snow storms may cause a change in school hours. Because the district is large, snow may not be widespread, but may be significant in regions or at higher elevations.

Changing school hours is a district-wide event and therefore school delays or daily closures are approved districtwide, not on a school by school basis. Please monitor the district’s website and local media about these changes. Please see the district’s Snow Plan at for further information.

Prolonged Power Outages : Intermittent power outages can last from minutes to days, but most frequently are less than 2 hours. Schools are prepared to support their students and although the daily lesson plans may need to be altered, education continues as much as possible.

If City Light advises us that the power outage will be prolonged, then parents will be notified and students may be released early or school may be cancelled for the day. As a general rule, if the buses have begun to pick up students in the morning or school has started, schools will not be released until after 10am.

Other school emergencies : Other emergencies, such as a bomb threat, communicable disease outbreak, or earthquake may also cause a change in school hours.

The district works with our city’s Emergency Operation Center, public health department, police and fire to determine our response.

What do I do if I see or hear of a threat after school hours?

All SPS staff and members of the community are encouraged to report anything and everything they see or hear or are made aware of if it may impact any school or school program.

If you see or hear something, say something.

The reporting can be made via 911 or by contacting the SPS Security Department at 206-252-0707.

SPS Security and, if required, SPD will determine course of action and next steps in order to maintain a safe and secure school environment.