MCPS Reviewing Policy To Screen for Potentially Violent Students

MCPS Reviewing Policy To Screen for Potentially Violent Students

Schools would be required to have trained threat assessment teams

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The Montgomery County Board of Education meets in Rockville.

File photo

The Montgomery County Board of Education is expected to adopt a policy aimed at identifying and providing interventions for potentially dangerous students and other threats.

The policy under review mandates each school establish a behavior threat assessment team, including administrators, law enforcement and staff members trained to respond to mental health crises, interact with non-English speakers and students with special needs.

Team members would receive two days of training about how to react to real or perceived threats made toward the school communities, which could range from little intervention to “imminent threats,” which would require calling police and implementing a lockdown.

School-based threat assessment teams will handle any incidents involving students, while the districtwide team will handle threats from staff or community members.

“The goal of the behavioral threat assessment is to provide support and interventions to those, whether it be students, staff, a parent or community member who may potentially want to come and do harm within the school district,” said Christina Conolly, director of psychological services.

Public comments on the the policy, which received tentative approval from the board last week, will be taken for 30 days.

Last school year, county police were notified of one bomb threat made against public schools, two arson reports and 125 physical or verbal threats, according to school system data. Police were notified 49 times for weapon reports.

Annual reports on the number of behavioral threat assessments would be provided to the school board.

The policy brings the school system into compliance with the Maryland Safe to Learn Act, signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan in April 2018, following a mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.

In the past year, 261 Montgomery public schools staff members have been trained in behavioral threat assessment and additional training sessions are scheduled throughout the summer.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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