POTTSTOWN PA – A “threat assessment team” of school administrators, law enforcement officials, guidance counselors or psychologists, and mental health professionals will be created in the Pottsgrove School District as a way to prevent threats of violence “before they are carried out” on school grounds, at related functions, or that may disrupt school operations, according to a policy unanimously approved Tuesday (Oct. 23, 2012) by the Board of School Directors.
The five-page policy, an accompanying four-page form for gathering information in a “School Threat Assessment Inquiry,” and a five-page set of “Threat Assessment Procedures” all were part of the package directors authorized without public comment.
The policy notes that its implementation in any situation would likely be based on “whether a student poses a risk, not whether the student has made a threat.”
It allows the district superintendent or his or her designee to determine if a threat assessment investigation should be pursued. It also allows the district to suspend a student from attending school “at the onset or during the course of” its investigation, even before its team determines whether an alleged threat or risk of one is credible.
Potential assessments might cover a threat to commit a violent act, weapon-seeking and weapon-using behaviors, homicidal and suicidal behaviors, and behaviors that suggest a student is contemplating or planning an attack. Any threats or potential threats learned by any district employee must be immediately reported to a building principal, the policy states.
Threat assessment investigations might cover indications that a threatening plan exists; written, e-mailed or text messages; an expression of violence in a student’s writings and drawings; signs of “social withdrawal” such as “feelings of depression, social rejection,” or “being a loner,” and “current indicators or past history of student concern.”
To collect information for an assessment, the policy adds, the team could rely on school information, collateral school interviews such as with bystanders or those in a social group, and interviews with parents or guardians, with the student being assessed, and with potential threat targets.
The policy also demands that parents or guardians and the assessed student must comply with recommended interventions of the team “to reduce the likelihood that the student will engage in future threatening behavior.” Students who do not comply with the recommendations within a specific time frame may be suspended or possibly expelled.
It requires members of the team to receive assessment training.
During their brief approval, board members did not discuss the cost of or timetable for training, the disposition of assessment records in which concerns of a threat are later deemed to have been unfounded or not credible, the provision of a student advocate or legal counsel at the onset of or during a threat assessment, or the length of time threat assessment documentation will remain in district files.
The policy, No. 218.2, is expected to be made available on the district website in coming weeks.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Oct. 23 meeting):
- Pottsgrove Approves School ‘Threat Assessment’ Policy
- Board OKs Air Repairs As Start Of Fixes At High School
- Oct. 30 Parents’ Meeting Planned On HS Keystone Exams
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