NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — Norman Public Schools (NPS) was honored Monday as the first public school district in the nation to receive the Gold Standard Award from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

The Gold Standard Award is the highest level of recognition TSA can give to a transit agency for achieving top scores during an annual review of 17 categories of security and emergency preparedness elements. The review evaluates several aspects of the transportation operations, including the security plan, security training, drills and exercise programs, public outreach efforts, and background check procedures.

“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 and to be the first school district in the nation to earn this recognition is truly something to celebrate.” 

Since 2006, the TSA has been conducting these voluntary assessment reviews through its Surface Transportation Security Inspection Program in an effort to improve security of mass transit systems in the United States.

“In the last 4 years [NPS has] continued to partner with TSA in all of the Surface programs that are offered,” said TSA Surface Jonathan Martinez. “That dedication exhibits the kind of partnership one wishes all school districts could see. To find such constant striving to improve their security, so that our children are more secure, is truly admirable.”

The partnership between TSA and Norman Public Schools began in 2018 with a First Observer Plus training, which is focused on security awareness.

Since then, the Norman Public Schools Transportation Department has also completed IED Awareness/Suspicious Package Training, Active Shooter/Active Threat Training, the Exercise Information System (EXIS) tabletop exercise, and the Blue Campaign Training (which is to combat Human Trafficking). 

The department also worked with TSA to update its policies, procedures, and every aspect of security – all the way down to lighting in the parking lots!

“Norman Public Schools Transportation Department is not only the first transportation department for school districts in the state of Oklahoma, but it is also the first in the nation to receive scores worthy of the Gold Standard Award for their excellence in security from TSA,” said Martinez. “Their willingness to participate in our programs, and the willingness to dedicate time and effort into securing our nation’s transportation, has put them at the top of all school districts when it comes to the safety of our children.”

The NPS Transportation Department serves more than 9,000 students daily, covering an area of 183 square miles with more than 162 routes daily.