friends of safeThe Friends of Safe Schools United States of America (FOSSUSA) is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to improving safety in and around schools. This non-profit group was created in Los Angeles with an approach to improving safety and security at our schools. The mission of FOSSUSA is rooted in improving communication, awareness and participating in programs that inspire positive behavior, cooperative relationships and a safer school environment for our students.

FOSSUSA uses a research-based approach for creating a safe and positive school environment that enhances student learning. Under the School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS), FOSSUSA brings proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. A multi-tiered continuum of positive behavior support for all students within a school is implemented in all areas. This includes the classroom and non-classroom settings (such as hallways, restrooms). Attention is focused on creating and sustaining school-wide instructional support in behavior so that problem behavior becomes less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior becomes more effective, efficient and relevant. SW-PBIS is a systems approach to enhancing the capacity of schools to educate all children by developing school wide, and classroom discipline systems that are research-based. The development of SW-PBIS is the process for creating safer and more effective schools. Existing research shows that in schools throughout the nation that effectively adopt, implement and maintain this multi-tiered behavior system are more likely to have environments that are safer, increase student engagement, are more inclusive, prevent major behavior problems, respond to student behavior effectively and positively that improve the results of interventions for students with more significant mental health and behavior problems, while enhancing achievement for all students.

Research also indicates that schools which rely heavily on suspension, citation and expulsion continue to experience significant increases in violent, destructive behavior. That approach also increases drop out and push out. SW-PBIS provides a positive and effective alternative to the traditional methods of relying on punishment. The SW-PBIS system is research-based and proven to significantly reduce the occurrence of problem behaviors in the school, resulting in a safer, more positive school climate and increased academic performance.

FOSSUSA is tasked with accomplishing important work through the contributions and support from people in our community who care about the safety of all youth. FOSSUSA establishes partnerships with local police departments and the communities and schools they serve by creating relationships based on cooperation, understanding, and trust. Together, FOSSUSA can support our communities by emphasizing the importance of school safety for students, teachers, administrators, and parents.

FOSSUSA just started a chapter in Miami, Florida, mostly in part through the support of Chief of Police Ian A. Moffett. As a result of our partnership with FOSSUSA, we were able to donate two scholarships to two graduating seniors from our own Law Enforcement Memorial Senior High School. Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (M-DSPD) is now in the process of raising funds for additional scholarships for next year’s graduates.

Our M-DSPD recently held a fundraising event with the purpose of collecting funds towards continuing FOSSUSA’s mission here in South Florida. We had a small get together at Atlantica Restaurant in Key Biscayne. We were able to obtain some of the drinks’ proceeds and we also had a silent auction. We plan to be able to also raise monies to offer scholarships to our students that are seeking to go into the law enforcement field. We are going to be selling tickets to Miami Dolphins games to raise additional funds. If you are interested in supporting this cause, please call Ms. Maya Holton at 305-757-7708.

Published by the Public Information & Community Affairs Office, M-DSPD