Role of the Crisis Management Team and Principal
Mandatory All-Staff MeetingPrior to the commencement of school following the death of a student, the principal should have an all-staff meeting. Generally, the principal will have approximately fifteen minutes to meet with staff. In addition to the "before school" meeting, it is important to hold an "after school" meeting to discuss the day's events and to talk about any students the faculty has concerns about.
The principal will announce an immediate all-staff mandatory meeting. Hopefully, the staff will know of the meeting through telephone-tree notification.
The principal identifies to the staff the Crisis Management Team Leader and informs staff this person will assist the principal in directing staff activities.
The principal and the Crisis Management Team Leader inform teachers and non-certified staff what is expected of them and review the accompanying hand-out materials. (See Appendix) All confirmed public facts regarding the student should be shared with the staff. (If death was by suicide, it is important that the staff do not confirm the causation since parents may eventually litigate the issue. However, students will discuss the nature of death, and at that point, the staff can and should discuss the nature of death, and at that point, the staff can and should discuss the issue of suicide. Reinforce the concept that suicide is not an acceptable way to deal with lie's temporary problems and is an act of poor judgement.)
Request that any staff member who, for whatever reasons, does not believe he/she can discuss this topic with the class, inform the principal. The principal then needs to assign a Crisis Team member to the classroom. [In many instances, the teacher(s) closest to the student will automatically need a substitute for the day. The substitute is there to assist the teacher so the regular teacher can spend individual time consoling students, going with the principal to visit parents, etc. This is an especially important issue at the elementary level.]
Inform staff what announcement will be made to the students and when the announcement will be made. (If possible provide the teachers with a typed copy of the announcement.)
Inform all staff members that any media presence or requests for information should be immediately directed to the principal. (See Appendix)
Announce that a mandatory fifteen-minute faculty meeting will be held after school to review the day's events. This allows an opportunity to receive feedback from faculty, to answer questions, and to review the next day's expectations. (At this meeting, be sure to get the names of any other students the staff members feel are "high risk".)
Entertain questions from the staff and/or requests staff have at this time.