Bloomington Public Schools’ Rick Kaufman, APR, receives national award for contributions to school safety

Published on Jun 07, 2023
Rick Kaufman

Bloomington Public Schools executive director of community relations and emergency management, Rick Kaufman, APR, has been honored with the Presidents Award by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). It is their highest award for an individual, awarded to leaders who have made outstanding contributions to the field of educational public relations.

Kaufman has been with Bloomington Public Schools for nearly 16 years. Kaufman helped pass the 2013 Safety and Technology referendum, which voters renewed in 2022, to fund critical infrastructure and systems for school safety throughout the district including security cameras, enhanced two-way radios for emergency communications, developed emergency response protocols, and implemented secure, single-point entry access for all schools and the district office.

Kaufman is a nationally respected consultant and trainer on emergency management and crisis communications. In 1996 he developed the first full-scale active shooter drill in a school setting while working at Sheboygan Area School District in Wisconsin. Three years later he was serving as the Jefferson County (CO) Public Schools’ executive director of public engagement and communications when the tragic Columbine High School mass school shooting occurred. Kaufman was among the first to arrive on scene to provide emergency triage and rescue operations before assuming co-leadership of the Columbine Crisis Response Team. Many schools have since modeled their crisis response plans after the work of Kaufman and his team.

“Rick’s expertise and dedication to school safety, community engagement and crisis communications is highly valued by me and our district. He works tirelessly to keep our students safe, and he’s always willing to help or advise other school districts in Minnesota and around the country. Rick is very deserving of this prestigious award,” said Dr. Eric Melbye, Bloomington Public Schools superintendent.

“Rick is a true trailblazer in school public relations. It is an honor to recognize his dedication to our profession and to the association. His work, leadership and unwavering commitment to excellence truly embodies the spirit of the Presidents Award,” said Catherine Kedjidjian, APR, NSPRA president.

Kaufman will accept the Presidents Award at the NSPRA National Seminar on July 17 in St. Louis, Missouri