School Security: A Framework for Collaboration

When considering their campus protection efforts, practitioners should consider the five Ds: Deter, Detect, Delay, Deny and Defend.

the relationship between threats and vulnerabilities. Threats exist and are generally beyond the ability of a school to control. Hazmat spills, non-custodial parents and school shooters are just some examples of the threats schools face.

Vulnerability is the ease and magnitude with which a given threat can impact a school. Adjustments in one or more of the three elements (school community, operations, facilities) of a school will change the vulnerability level to any given threat. How much and what type of adjustment will impact the convenience vs. security balance.

Consider the following as an example of the how the relationship between threat and vulnerability will affect the balance of security vs. convenience. A school shooter is a threat. A single point of entry to a school lowers the school’s vulnerability to the shooter. The single point of entry also makes it less convenient for parents, students and staff to get into the school. This example also brings to light the need for the last section of the framework, the rubric to assess current security efforts and help to guide future planning.

There is a meaningful method to assess current school security efforts and frame the discussion and planning of school security for all the stakeholders involved. Practitioners often consider security efforts in terms of five Ds.

The first D stands for Deter: in simple terms encourage the threat to go elsewhere. Second, Detect: identify the threat as far out, in both time and space, as possible. Next, Delay: slow the threat down as much as possible.  Fourth, Deny: simply prevent the threat from gaining access to the school.  And last, Defend: prepare so that if the worst possible event occurs, there will be action to defend the school community.

As school communities seek to provide meaningful improvement in the level of security, common understanding is essential to the effort. This framework; the understanding of the three elements of school,  the acceptance of the opposing natures of security and connivance, the relationship between threat and vulnerability, and the rubric of the five D’s for school security assessment and planning, offer a powerful tool for collaboration.

Brian Armes has been involved in K-12 education for more than 25 years as a teacher, vice principal and principal. Guy Blisner is a long-time educator with more than 20 years experience as a teacher, coach and health, safety and security coordinator for a school district in Idaho Falls, Idaho. For the past several months, Armes and Bliesner have been conducting safety and security assessments of more than 55 school districts in Idaho. For more information, visit

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Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

Tagged with: Risk Assessment

About the Author


Guy Bliesner began his career in education in 1994 as a high school teacher and coach. Moving into administration in 2006 as the Safety and Security Coordinator for the Bonneville School District. While serving in that position he was named to the Idaho’s Governor’s School Safety Task Force. Also, during his Bonneville tenure, he was named a finalist for the 2011 Campus Safety Magazine’s national Campus Safety Director of the Year Award. In 2013 he left the district to form, with a partner, the private School Safety, Security, Risk Management consulting firm of Educators Eyes. This firm developed and implemented Idaho’s first statewide school safety and security condition assessment.

In 2016 he dissolved the firm to join, as a founding member, the newly created Idaho Office of School Safety and Security. He currently serves as the School Safety and Security Analyst assigned to schools in Southeast Idaho. His mission is to support the public and charter schools of southeast Idaho to bolster school safety through assessment, training, and planning assistance.

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