May 10, 2018 - With schools witnessing an uptick in threats of violence as well as tragic shootings around the country, Douglas County education leaders, members of law enforcement and mental health specialists have joined together to put a countywide system in place intended to assess potentially dangerous situations.
Douglas Education Service District in March hosted student risk assessment teams training, a collaborative, multi-agency application of best practice research and recommendations to assist school districts and communities in their implementation of teams intended to provide an immediate and systematic response to youth who pose a serious threat to commit violence to others.
“Student and school safety is a priority in every school in Douglas County,” said Alison Hinson, director of behavioral health services at Douglas ESD. “Schools in our county are constantly pursuing professional development, and with the current climate of addressing school threats by students it seemed an appropriate time to seek further training.”
The training was led by school psychologist and threat assessment consultant John Van Dreal.
The assessment process is a two-level system that includes the different perspectives of a school site-based multi-disciplinary team called a Level 1 Assessment and a multi-agency community team called a Level 2 Assessment. The two-tiered process maximizes school and community resources by determining the level of supervision and intensity of intervention required to decrease risk and ensure needed supports.
Representatives from Douglas County schools, law enforcement, public mental health, the judiciary and juvenile corrections attended the training. Multiple districts across the county have put the threat assessment system in place. A Student Risk Assessment Team for Level 2 threats – those threats identified as potentially viable for further investigation or intervention – has been formed including Douglas County schools, Douglas ESD, Compass Behavioral Health, Sutherlin Police Department, Roseburg Police Department, Douglas County Juvenile Department and Umpqua Community College.
Roseburg Police Department Sgt. Dennis Chrisenbery said that when he learned the training was coming to Douglas County in an attempt to form a multi-disciplinary assessment team, he knew RPD should be involved.
“We have a goal of preventing school violence from ever happening, and this is a great step in that direction,” he said.
Hinson said that each school district has had risk and safety measures and protocols in place, and there have been trainings related to student risk in the past, but none that were a comprehensive, multi-agency countywide response. Many schools were interested in adopting a standardized, evidence-based approach so that all staff know the protocols and procedures to not only identify potential threats, but also how to engage law enforcement and mental health experts in a team-based approach.
“We want children, parents and staff to feel safe about their schools so that they can focus on learning, and this system helps us do just that,” she said.