KBS Reference Desk: Threat Assessment

Q:       I’ve been inundated with COVID issues lately and feel that I might be missing other deadlines. Was there something the District was supposed to do related to Threat Assessment this fall?

A:        Yes. School districts must, among other things, report certain “threat assessment” data to TEA by November 13, 2020.

Senate Bill 11, enacted on June 6, 2019, imposed several new requirements related to school safety, such as mandatory reporting of certain bomb or terroristic threats (TEC § 37.113), implementation of bleeding control stations at each campus (§ 38.030), and the requirement to create a “Threat Assessment and Safe and Supportive School Program and Team” (§ 37.115). To better understand the nature of the threat assessment data to be reported this November, it is useful to review a few of the main requirements outlined in Section 37.115 of the Education Code:

Duties of the Board of Trustees: The board of trustees of each district must establish a “threat assessment and safe and supportive school team” (also referred to by TEA as an “SSSP Team”) to serve at each campus of the district. The board must also adopt policies and procedures for the Team that (1) are consistent with the model policies and procedures developed by the Texas School Safety Center (click here); (2) require each Team to complete training provided by the Texas School Safety Center or a regional education service center regarding evidence-based threat assessment programs; and (3) require each Team to report certain information to TEA as outlined in § 37.115(k), such as the occupation of each person appointed to the team, the number of threats and a description of the type of the threats reported to the team, the outcome of each assessment, and numerous other specific data points.

Duties of the Superintendent: The superintendent must ensure that the members appointed to each Team have a variety of collective expertise, including expertise in counseling, behavior management, mental health and substance use, classroom instruction, special education, school administration, school safety and security, emergency management, and law enforcement. The superintendent may establish a committee, or assign to an existing committee, the duty to oversee the operations of Teams established for the district. If a committee is delegated this responsibility, its members must have collective expertise in 10 identified areas. See § 37.115 (e).

Duties of each Team: Each Team is responsible for developing and implementing the safe and supportive school program (SSSP) at its assigned campus. The specific requirements in the SSSP do not appear to be published at this time, but TEA has posted “Interim Guidance for SSSP Teams Training and Data Collection,” which is available here. The Education Code requires each Team to conduct a threat assessment that includes certain parameters outlined in § 37.115(f).

November 13, 2020 Report: As noted above, TEA requires that each district collect baseline threat assessment data on the following in order to prepare for the November 13, 2020 reporting to TEA:

1.      Whether your district has received training on behavioral threat assessment, and established a functioning behavioral threat assessment process;

2.      The roles of personnel conducting the behavioral threat assessment;

3.      The number of campuses served by a functioning behavioral threat assessment process; and

4.      The number of threats assessed using behavioral threat assessment during the 2019-2020 school year.

TEA has indicated that this data will be collected using a Qualtrics survey and will be based on the activities that occurred from September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020. For specific questions or additional information regarding the requirements imposed by Senate Bill 11, please contact your local school law attorney.

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