Education

NC receives nearly $1M grant for school safety efforts

Posted October 21, 2019 3:36 p.m. EDT
Updated October 21, 2019 3:39 p.m. EDT

— The N.C. Department of Public Instruction's Center for Safer Schools has been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million from the U.S. Justice Department, the agency announced.

The Center for Safer Schools will work with several other organizations, including Triangle-based RTI International, to assess the needs of local districts and develop training, technical assistance and supports to improve safety in the state’s public schools.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson said the grant will help efforts that are already underway to ensure the safety of students and staff.

“We are increasing school safety measures across the entire state, including more school resource officers and mental-health supports in our schools,” Johnson said in a statement.

The Center serves as a hub of information and technical assistance on school safety to faculty and staff, law enforcement, youth-serving community agencies, juvenile justice officials, policymakers, parents, guardians and students.

Center staff focus on school climate, school discipline and emergency preparedness. Staff provide trainings, guidance and technical assistance upon request for school staff and those working with children.

Under the three-year grant, funded by the STOP School Violence Technology and Threat Assessment Solutions for Safer Schools Program, the Center will focus on three key areas: training and technical assistance; resources and policies; and partnerships and coordination.

To set priorities, the Center will conduct a needs-assessment survey of superintendents, principals and safety directors and gauge how schools and districts use the Center’s resources. Training, technical assistance and support will then be provided based on the needs and interests of schools and districts.

In addition, the grant will help support the Center’s efforts to provide information on its website about evidence-based practices and policies as well as a searchable online library containing critical resources.

The Center plans also to strengthen and develop partnerships through the Center for Safer Schools Task Force, which was begun in 2013 and includes parents, students, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement, juvenile justice professionals and mental health providers.

In addition to RTI International, which will manage the grant-supported project, the effort will get support from three other organizations with expertise in school safety-related issues – the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, SIGMA Threat Management Associates and the Center for Applied Research Solutions.

Earlier this year, the state superintendent announced the Say Something app, which will make it easier for students, parents, teachers and others to report possible threats or bullying as part of the state's overall effort to have safer schools. A smaller pilot program that rolled out in a handful of districts last year led to more than 100 verified tips.

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