CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County School District will implement a new threat assessment policy starting the 18-19 school year.
Monday is the first day of school for CCSD students, and amid the constant fear for children’s safety after numerous school shooting across the country, CCSD is buffing up their threat assessment protocol.
“It’s a better way for schools to handle things in a manner that’s fast and efficient rather than waiting for a team to show up and do that on it’s campus,” said CCSD Executive Director of Alternative Programs and Services, Jennifer Coker.
The new system is an assessment checklist. It will give school administrators a step-by-step process on how to follow threats. Administrators will have to rank them “low, medium, or high risk,” and follow certain procedures depending on the threat’s risk level.
“It’s impossible to say if you say this it will be a low threat or a high threat. the assessment actually looks at the whole student and some of their previous actions and what they’re going through,” Coker said.
This past school year, the district began collecting data on threat assessments. There were two categories, threats to self and threats to others. According to CCSD records, there were 105 threats to self throughout the district last year and 88 threats to others, totaling 193 school threats.
“Teens and students, one of their coping mechanisms can be making harm to their self or other, that’s something we have to be prepared to deal with,” Coker said.
CCSD’s Director of School Counseling Services, Fronde Stille, says the school contacts parents first in a student makes a threat.
“We always contact the parent, whether it’s low medium or high. but the counselor determines the next steps,” Stille said.
The next steps could result in calling the police, sending the student to a hospital, a therapist, or one of the many mental health partners that work with the district. The district says every threat is handled differently depending on the level of threat.
The district says their number one goal is prevention. Charleston County uses the National Positive Behavior and Intervention and Support, PBIS, for positive reinforcement.
“That’s where we teach kids what we expect and re-teach them if they don’t understand,” Coker said.
The district is also on a social emotional learning curriculum to help students threatening to harm themselves or others.
“It teaches them empathy, how to deal with anger and frustrations, and teaching them other ways to deal with that,” Croker said.
The district says they are doing everything to help prevent any threats from happening, but with the new system in place, the district says they’re equipped to handle a threat if need be.
The new threat and risk assessment process is in the district’s code of conduct. To access click here.