Activity Guide

As an educational leader, you realize how important effective communication is to crafting and maintaining a safe and secure school environment. This activity will give you and your staff an opportunity to read and evaluate a summative research report on a school response after a traumatic event has occurred. Use the findings and discussions as a lens to pay these lessons forward, so that you and your school staff can begin to identify strategies and plans to ensure a more proactive approach and reduce the likelihood of a violent event ever happening in your school.

This module will focus on:

  • Creating a clearinghouse of legal information.
  • Understanding and using the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) effectively.

This information has far-reaching impact and, when implemented correctly, the potential to mitigate situations compromising your school’s safety.




  •  Convene a meeting of your leadership team. Distribute notecards and ask each member of the team to write down what they know about FERPA.
    • What is the purpose?
    • How does it work?
    • What are the limitations?
    • How is student privacy protected?
  • Debrief the activity by allowing each person to share his or her thoughts.
  • Provide copies or links to the reading. Ask each participant to read carefully, highlighting the information that relates to sharing student information with others in the school community.
  • Begin a debriefing of the reading by asking team members to respond to the following prompts.
    • Before I read this article, I used to think this about sharing student information …
    • After reading this article, I now think this about sharing student information …
    • The information that was most surprising to me was …
  • Based on this conversation, lead a discussion about the current realities in a “FERPA world” and steps that need to be taken to make information sharing more clearly understood. Begin the discussion with the Discussion Prompts.
  • Complete the Current Realities and Actions Template in groups of three to five participants. Ask that participants focus on existing practices in the school, protocols that are in place to ensure student privacy, and procedures for information sharing that need revision. Allow ample time for this discussion and ask for specific examples. Assign one person to record the responses on chart paper.

Extend and Apply

  • Ask each member of the leadership team to present their recommendations at a meeting of the safety team.
  • Ask the safety team to look at the information that has been recorded and examine where the strengths and gaps exist.
  • Ask the school’s safety team to review the recommendations made in the “Report on the Arapahoe High School Shooting: Executive Summary,” pp. 7–19.
  • Ask the safety team to revise the school’s protocols and safety plan based on the recommendations of the leadership team and the findings on the “Arapahoe High School Shooting Report.”
  • Have the administrative and safety teams plan an informational meeting with the full faculty using the resources in this activity.
  • Schedule a professional development workshop with a FERPA update conducted by district personnel.