Schools are confronted with a variety of potential threats that must be evaluated and responded to in order to maintain a safe and secure learning environment for all students and staff. The Threat Assessment process is comprised of Initial Response, Screening, and if necessary, a more In-Depth Assessment. The assessments are intended to ensure timeliness of response, safety of all in the school environment, and deployment of the school's resources in the most efficient manner, according to the facts of each individual case.
Through mandatory training, it is emphasized that "not all threats are created equal." Therefore, it is important that those charged with responding to potential threats in the schools have a systematic means of gathering information and communicating with each other about the seriousness of the situation and the need for immediate action. In the majority of cases, there is sufficient time to complete all three stages of the Threat Assessment process, if needed. In some instances, a threat may be imminent, requiring quick and effective action to ensure safety.
Volusia County Schools utilizes the Comprehensive School Threat assessment Guidelines (CSTAG), developed in 2001 by Dr. Dewey Cornell, to evaluate potentially dangerous situations. It is designed to “prevent violence by helping the individual to resolve the problem, thereby removing the impetus for violence”. Safety precautions for the individual and others are taken very seriously. Volusia County schools uses this CSTAG model as a guideline for investing threats, gathering relevant information, considering context and factors, and taking reasonable action.
Behavioral Threat Assessment F.S. 1001.212(12)
By August 1, 2019, develop a standardized, statewide behavioral threat assessment instrument for use by all public schools, including charter schools, which addresses early identification, evaluation, early intervention, and student support. (a) The standardized, statewide behavioral threat assessment instrument must include, but need not be limited to, components and forms that address:
- An assessment of the threat, which includes an assessment of the student, family, and school and social dynamics.
- An evaluation to determine if the threat is transient or substantive.
- The response to a substantive threat, which includes the school response and the role of law enforcement agencies.
- The response to a serious substantive threat, including mental health and law enforcement referrals.
- Ongoing monitoring to assess implementation of safety strategies.
- Training for members of threat assessment teams established under s. 1006.07(7) and school administrators regarding the use of the instrument.