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School Specialty Expands Into New Markets With the Launch of SSI GUARDIAN, A New Curriculum-Based Security & Preparedness Solution for Education and Health Care

GREENVILLE, Wis., Jan. 20, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- School Specialty, Inc. (OTCQB:SCOO) ("School Specialty" or "the Company"), a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both supplemental and curriculum products to the education marketplace, today announced the launch of SSI GUARDIAN, a new curriculum-based security initiative designed to keep schools, and our children safe. Taught by subject-matter experts affiliated with U.S. Military Special Operation Forces, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Secret Service, Federal Law Enforcement and Education, SSI GUARDIAN provides schools, school districts and those responsible for the safety of children, with current, credible and PhD-authored content that will better prepare them to deal with crisis scenarios.

SSI GUARDIAN brings forth a sustainable solution that incorporates training, consulting services, consumable products and technology. The Company has developed new curriculum based on industry best practices and field experience from leading subject-matter experts, and sourced in accordance with academic standards. SSI GUARDIAN curriculum is focused on strengthening campus and school safety by providing administrators with the professional development tools to address safety and risk mitigation. SSI GUARDIAN will also offer consulting services, helping schools and school districts to conduct vulnerability assessments for school sites, emergency planning, contingency planning, and safe school design. Similar curriculum/training modules have also been developed for health care facilities including hospitals, outpatient care centers and rehab centers.

Joseph M. Yorio, School Specialty's President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "Now, more than ever, school safety and security have become critical elements of our educational system and are commanding national attention given the tragic events in recent years. With our reach into schools, our curriculum offerings and security industry relationships, we saw this as a natural extension and a chance to do something unique in the market. I've spent a large portion of my adult life serving in the military, defense, intelligence and security related fields and I cannot stress enough, the importance of planning, awareness and preparedness. It has saved mine and others' lives and now, we have an opportunity to do the same for our children – to help keep them safe!"

Awareness, Preparedness and Preservation

From the onset, SSI GUARDIAN will consist of four curriculum-training programs, the first being the Active Shooter Safe School and the second, School Bus Driver Threat Awareness. Active Shooter for Higher Learning and health care will round out the Company's initial curriculum offering, which is expected to grow to over twenty independent courses. With SSI GUARDIAN training, school officials and staff will be provided with materials, insights and real-life experience scenarios to better prepare all staff responsible for our children -- whether it's to deal with an active shooter situation, a violent event on a school bus, or just having the essential tools to raise awareness of behaviors and surrounding environments. Training will initially be offered onsite to school administrators, principals/asst. principals, teachers, and staff, as well as via webinars and e-Learning forums. SSI GUARDIAN intends to provide additional curriculum offerings throughout the year, on security preparedness issues beyond Active Shooting, while also expanding its 100,000+ product assortment, with the inclusion of Security and Safety products and new Technology Solutions.

SSI GUARDIAN Curriculum is part of a course being taught at Methodist University this semester (started January 12, 2015) by Professor Frank Trapp, PhD, Curriculum Author & Certified Executive Instructor. Professor Trapp is teaching an undergraduate course entitled "Emergency Operations Management" at Methodist University which incorporates the Active Shooter and Bus Transportation presentations. SSI GUARDIAN content has been integrated in the section of the course examining incident/hazard planning for the education community. Additionally, J. Kelly Stewart, CHS-IV, CAS will serve as a Curriculum Contributing Author & Certified Executive Instructor, and Rocco DelMonaco will serve as a Certified Executive Instructor for SSI GUARDIAN upon launch. For more information on SSI GUARDIAN's cadre of instructors, please visit us on the web at www.guardianprotect.com/our-team/.

Mr. Yorio continued, "What makes our curriculum unique is not just the content, but also the manner in which it is taught. Our instructors have been in the business of crisis preparedness and safety for decades and know what is needed to keep our schools and children safe. We intend to leverage their expertise, and the full strength of SSI's nationwide reach to educate the market on SSI GUARDIAN and how we can help make a difference. SSI GUARDIAN has been tailored to address the needs of our core market, K-12, as well as Higher Education and Health Care. Our focus is on pre-crisis awareness, preparedness and then preservation for all those affected, should an incident occur."

School Specialty also announced today that Michael A. Yorio has been brought on as President, SSI GUARDIAN, LLC and Senior Vice President of the Company's Security Division. Michael previously served as General Manager for the Distance Learning arm of Xe Services, a privately held defense contractor, as well as the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. In this role, he helped expand their retail operation, and spearheaded the Crisis Management business unit, providing security and threat-related training and solutions to the private sector. Michael also served as a Partner in NYX Global, a private consulting firm, where he was a team lead on "School In-A-Box", a global outreach program providing educational curriculum and support to disadvantaged countries such as Afghanistan. Additionally, Mr. Yorio has been engaged in numerous projects within the security space. Michael began his career with Georgia-Pacific Corp. and has held numerous leadership roles with increasing responsibility for multi-national organizations such as Sumitomo Corporation, where he helped grow a North American start-up division to a U.S. manufacturing facility, yielding numerous domestic jobs. Mr. Yorio played football at Marshall University, earning a BS in Social Sciences, Secondary Education from Indiana University, Pennsylvania. He holds Masters Certificates in Executive Leadership and Business Management from Cornell University, S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, and the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, respectively. Michael was awarded a scholarship for the IE Brown Executive MBA program.

"I am honored to have been chosen to lead this critical initiative for School Specialty," said Michael A. Yorio. "When I received the call from Joe this past summer, it was an easy decision to make, as I believe School Specialty provides the idyllic platform to deliver this expertise to the education and health care markets, and beyond. The sole objective of SSI GUARDIAN is to help keep our children, teachers and citizens safe through crisis management training and innovative solutions. This is an exciting new venture and I look forward to working with Joe, the SSI team and most important, meeting with our customers and helping them enhance their approach to safeguarding their students and employees."

Mr. Joseph Yorio concluded, "We're excited to have Michael onboard to lead SSI GUARDIAN and to support what could be one of the key growth drivers for our Company for years to come. We've assembled a great team and while it will take time, we see opportunities to redefine this market and to provide schools and other facilities with the knowledge and resources they need to better address and plan for various emergency scenarios. Security is near and dear to me and we're coming to market with a transformative solution."

For more information on SSI GUARDIAN, please visit us on the web at www.guardianprotect.com.

About School Specialty, Inc.

School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.

Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Information

Any statements made in this press release about School Specialty's future financial condition, results of operations, expectations, plans, or prospects, including the information under the heading "Financial Outlook", constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements also include those preceded or followed by the words "anticipates," "believes," "could," "estimates," "expects," "intends," "may," "plans," "projects," "should," "targets" and/or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are based on School Specialty's current estimates and assumptions and, as such, involve uncertainty and risk. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements because of a number of factors, including the factors described in Item 1A of School Specialty's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 26, 2014, which factors are incorporated herein by reference. Any forward-looking statement in this release speaks only as of the date in which it is made. Except to the extent required under the federal securities laws, School Specialty does not intend to update or revise the forward-looking statements.

CONTACT: Investor and Media Contacts: Glenn Wiener / Jay Morakis gwiener@GWCco.com / jmorakis@GWCco.com 212-786-6011 / 212-266-0191

Source:School Specialty, Inc.