Oklahoma school district first in nation to earn Standard of Excellence Award

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Norman school buses photo
Group ohoto
From left, Norman school bus operators Gary Rork, Karen Rodgers, James Graham and Patty Tauscher; Assistant Director of Transportation Melissa Duffey; TSA Surface Inspectors Eric Fischer and Kim Greenwood; TSA Assistant Federal Security Director Ken Jolly; TSA Regional Security Director Mel Carraway; Norman Public Schools (NPS) Director of Transportation Mike Tauscher; NPS Superintendent Nick Migliorino; TSA Surface Inspector Jonathan Martinez; Assistant School Superintendent Justin Milner; School Board President Cindy Nashert; Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila; TSA Surface Inspector William Goedelman; Norman Police Chief Kevin Foster; Assistant Fire Chief Grant Deason. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Martinez)

An Oklahoma school district is setting the bar sky high when it comes to school bus security.  Norman Public Schools (NPS) is the first public school district in the nation to earn a Standard of Excellence Award from TSA.

“TSA conducts security assessments on mass transit and highway and motor carrier systems through our Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement program,” said TSA Surface Inspector Jonathan Martinez. “This is a voluntary program which incorporates 20 recommended security action items agreed upon by TSA and our industry partners to assess an agency’s security program.” 

Martinez said the NPS assessment score was a whopping 98%.

Since 2009, TSA has recognized transit agencies that have demonstrated outstanding performance in enhancing their security programs through its Gold Standard Award program. So far, TSA has presented 95 Gold Standard Awards, and now, the agency has awarded its first-ever Standard of Excellence Award to a public school district.

“Norman Public Schools’ dedication to safety and security could well be summed up as building bridges,” Martinez noted. “In the last four years, they have partnered with TSA in all of the surface programs we offer. These programs have allowed them to build bridges not only with the TSA Oklahoma field office, but bridges between local and state law enforcement and the intelligence community for the safety and security of their students.” 

Martinez applauds NPS for completing TSA’s First Observer Plus™, improvised explosive device awareness/suspicious package, and active shooter/active threat awareness training as well as the DHS Blue Campaign training to combat human trafficking.

“We could not be more proud to receive this award,” said NPS Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino. “This is the result of years of hard work and dedication to student safety. To be the first school district in the nation to earn this recognition is truly something to celebrate.”

Martinez said the school district’s willingness to participate in TSA programs and dedicate their time and effort into securing our nation’s transportation puts them at the top of all school districts when it comes to the safety of their children.

“Their dedication exhibits the kind of partnership one wishes all school districts could see,” emphasized Martinez. “To find such constant striving to improve their security so our children are more secure is truly admirable.”

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs