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School-Based Threat Assessment
The Lake Washington School District is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment for students and staff. This policy establishes a school-based threat assessment program to provide for timely and consistent school-based threat assessment and management.
Threat assessment best occurs in school climates of safety, respect, and emotional support. Student behavior rather than a student’s demographic or personal characteristics will serve as the basis for a school-based threat assessment.
The threat assessment process is distinct from student discipline procedures. The mere fact that the district is conducting a threat assessment does not by itself necessitate suspension or expulsion and the district will not impose suspension or expulsion, including emergency expulsion, solely for investigating student conduct or conducting a threat assessment. When possible, keeping students in school with additional supervision and support should be considered. However, nothing in this policy precludes district personnel from acting immediately to address an imminent threat, including imposing an emergency expulsion, if the district has sufficient cause to believe that the student’s presence poses an immediate and continuing danger to other students or school personnel or an immediate and continuing threat of material and substantial disruption of the educational process.
Structure of Threat Assessment Teams
The superintendent shall establish and ensure the training of a multidisciplinary, multiagency threat assessment teams within the district. As the threat assessment team must be multidisciplinary and multiagency, it might include persons with expertise in:
- School administration, such as a principal or other senior administrator,
- Counseling, such as a school counselor, a school psychologist and/or school social worker,
- Law enforcement, such as a school resource officer,
- Special education caseworker or teacher,
- School safety and crisis management,
- Practicing educational staff member,
- Other district or school staff,
- Community resources.
After initial evaluation, the team structure will be determined by the specific needs of the circumstances in cooperation with the school and district administrator. Not every multidisciplinary team member need participate in every threat assessment. When faced with a potential threat by, or directed towards, a student receiving special education services, the threat assessment team should include an educator who is familiar with the student’s special education services.
Although parents, guardians, or family members are often interviewed as part of the threat assessment process, neither the student nor the student’s family members are part of the threat assessment team. This does not diminish the district’s commitment that school personnel will make every reasonable attempt to involve parents and the student in the resolution of the student’s behavioral violations, consistent with Policy and Procedure 3241 – Student Discipline.
Function of Threat Assessment Team
Each threat assessment team member functions as a “school official with a legitimate educational interest” in educational records controlled and maintained by the district. The district provides the threat assessment team access to educational records as specified by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). No member of a threat assessment team shall use any student record beyond the prescribed purpose of the threat assessment team or re-disclose records obtained by being a member of the threat assessment team, except as permitted by FERPA.
The threat assessment team:
- Identifies and assesses the behavior of a student that is threatening, or potentially threatening, to self, other students, staff, school visitors, or school property. Threats of self-harm or suicide unaccompanied by threats of harm to others should be promptly evaluated according to the district suicide prevention plan(s).
- Gathers and analyzes information about the student’s behavior to determine a level of concern for the threat. The threat assessment team may conduct interviews of the person(s) who reported the threat, the recipient(s) or target(s) of the threat, other witnesses who have knowledge of the threat, and where reasonable, the individual(s) who allegedly engaged in the threatening behavior or communication. The purpose of the interviews is to evaluate the individual’s threat in context to determine the meaning of the threat and intent of the individual. The threat assessment team may request and obtain records in the district’s possession, including student education, health records, and criminal history record information. The purpose of obtaining information is to evaluate situational variables, rather than the student’s demographic or personal characteristics.
- Determines the nature, duration, and level of severity of the risk and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk. The threat assessment team will not base a determination of threat on generalizations or stereotypes. Rather, the threat assessment team makes an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment, best available objective evidence, or current medical evidence as applicable;
- Communicates lawfully and ethically with each other, school administrators, and other school staff who have a need-to-know particular information to support the safety and well-being of the school, its students, and its staff; and
- The threat assessment team may request additional records as needed from other agencies.
- Timely reports its determination to the superintendent or designee.
Depending on the level of concern determined, the threat assessment team develops and implements intervention strategies to manage the student’s behavior in ways that promote a safe, supportive teaching, and learning environment, without excluding the student from the school.
In cases where the student whose behavior is threatening or potentially threatening also has a disability, the threat assessment team aligns intervention strategies with the student’s individualized education program (IEP) or the student’s plan developed under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 (section 504 plan) by coordinating with the student’s IEP team or section 504 plan team.
Although some of the functions of a school-based threat assessment may run parallel to the functions of a student’s IEP team or 504 plan team, school-based threat assessments remain distinct from those teams and processes.
Data Collection, Review and Reporting
The superintendent shall establish procedures for collecting and submitting data related to the school-based threat assessment program that comply with OSPI’s monitoring requirements, processes, and guidelines.
Chapter 28A.300 RCW Chapter 28A.320RCW
CFR 34, Part 99, Family Educational Rights and Privacy
2121 – Substance Abuse Program
2161 – Special Education and Related Services for Eligible Students
2162 – Education of Students with Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
3231 – Student Records
3241 – Student Discipline
3432 – Emergencies
4210 – Regulation of Dangerous Weapons on School Premises
4310 – District Relationships with Law Enforcement and other Government Agencies
4314 – Notification of Threats of Violence of Harm
2019 – December Issue
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2021 With Adaptations, Lake Washington School District