SPOKANE, Wash. -- School safety experts said some Washington School districts are not equipped to evaluate threats because they are not required to train for them.
The state does not require teachers, administrators and school resource officers to receive threat assessment training. They just have to come up with a plan.
Spokane Public Schools leaders said anytime there is a threat toward the school, staff or students, it is immediately reported to law enforcement. Police then investigate the credibility and seriousness of the threat. After that, the district works from a "Salem-Keizer model." This is a threat assessment model that started in Oregon 20 years ago.
Spokane Public Schools has a threat assessment team of about eight people that includes a district psychologist, school administrators, district security director, an elementary or secondary director and sometimes a counselor. The team works to recognize, screen and respond to emotional or behavioral stress in students, including signs of violence, which is a minimum requirement of the state.
Initial aggressive behavior from a student, which falls under a "tier 1 level of behavior," is addressed at school among administrators. Management plans are made and support systems for the student are created. When a student makes a severe threat, which is a "tier two or three level behavior," the team investigates the problem through an intensive evaluation.
Depending on the situation, the student will face a three to 10 day suspension. This gives the team time to decide how to best support that student. They dig into the student's background to identify the root of the problem while working with the student, their parents and school principal to decide what is the best way to intervene.
Sometimes the threat assessment team can decide the student would benefit from a new learning environment and transfer them to another school in the district. The team could also have the student take online classes from home. It is all determined on a case by case basis.
In the end, the goal is to make the student, staff and school feel safe, and this team of experts determine the best way to do that.