Recovering from a School Crisis

Published June 1, 2000

Planning ideas developed in handling the psychological aftermath of two devastating earthquakes in Turkey last year have become part of a new Web-based crisis manager designed specifically for schools to handle crisis situations: acts of violence, disruptive students, suicidal youngsters, missing children, and bomb threats, for example.

The crisis planning software, PLANet from Strohl Systems, enables administrators to draw on the expertise of disaster recovery specialists to quickly and easily build customized response plans that incorporate industry best practices.

School administrators don’t plan on having crises at their schools, but the well-prepared administrator has a plan in hand to recover from a student crisis or a school disaster, should one occur. In those situations, it’s helpful to have access to an experienced trauma expert and crisis manager like Robert D. Macy.

Last November, Macy, who is director of community services at the Boston Trauma Center, was called on to lead the psychological recovery effort for thousands of homeless and displaced school-age children in Turkey, which had suffered two devastating earthquakes in quick succession. The classroom-based psychosocial intervention program Macy developed for Turkish guidance counselors has become part of PLANet.

The idea for PLANet came as a suggestion from Pennsylvania’s Garnet Valley School District Superintendent Tony Costello, who wanted a tool based on best practices. When Strohl Systems, the industry leader in crisis planning software and consulting, approached Macy about developing PLANet, he met the invitation without reservation.

“I’ve been thinking about different ways of developing a tool like PLANet for years,” Macy explained. “We know both experientially and empirically that immediate, professional, and measured response to traumatic stress events in school decreases the negative effects of traumatic stress. With PLANet, we’re now able to deliver this service in the most efficient manner possible.”

The software was developed to be readily adaptable to specific needs, which Macy contends is “the only way you can deliver psychosocial and mental health services to a community.” While the content is based on empirical evidence, not theory, Macy admits that PLANet “will work only as well as schools want it to work.”

According to Macy, schools need to adopt PLANet, be serious about it, train on it, and use it. But, he says, “without it, especially with certain types of traumatic instances like adolescent suicide, schools will continually jeopardize themselves, both on a psychosocial level and on a legal level.”

PLANet is built to give schools the highest quality post-vention services and action, Macy says. When used effectively it will lead eventually to very good, high-quality intervention. So that as “things begin to bubble–suicide, drug abuse, or kids becoming violent–you see the signs early and begin to intervene.”

Garnet Valley Superintendent Costello says he wouldn’t want to be without PLANet in a large, urban school district like his. “You have to plan for crisis situations and PLANet provides [that] for you,” he said.

For more information . . .

on PLANet, visit the Strohl Systems Web site at, or call 800/634-2016.