School safety departments, like many other departments, are often overtasked and under-resourced, making it difficult to staff and implement a threat assessment team. These types of teams assess, identify, and manage threatening or potentially threatening situations and behaviors.
The new Title IX rules on sexual harassment feature many principles of threat assessment, making threat assessment teams more critical than ever for K-12 schools.
Sexual Assault in K-12 Schools
The Education Department found that reports of sexual violence at K-12 schools increased by about 50% from the 2015-2016 school year to the 2017-2018 school year. Conversations around sexual assault have typically only revolved around college campuses, so K-12 administrators may find themselves feeling underprepared to handle allegations of sexual assault.
“There is so much more that needs to be done in the K-12 space to increase awareness around Title IX and sex discrimination and sexual harassment,” said Shiwali Patel, Director of Justice for Student Survivors and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.
Why Threat Assessment Teams are a Must-Have for K-12 Schools
In a recent article in Campus Safety Magazine, Elliot Cox, a school safety analyst for the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security, outlined several key reasons why the new Title IX rules make threat assessment teams even more critical to K-12 schools.
- The new Title IX rules mandate that when sexual harassment is alleged, schools must provide supportive measures to the alleged victim. These measures could include contact restrictions, security escorts, referrals to supportive services, and altering school schedules. Designing strategies to protect the safety of alleged victims perfectly aligns with a threat assessment and management process. Plus, since the threat assessment team should include members from different departments, this will expand the resources/supportive measures that can be provided.
- The new Title IX rules require the basic principles of threat assessment, especially in regard to the emergency removal provision, so schools should seriously consider forming and training a threat assessment team. This will help the school focus on safety and compliance as a whole, and can help with Title IX allegations and decisions.
- The emergency removal provision also comes with challenges. If the removed student challenges the removal decision, if a decision of reinstating needs to be made, and if there is a tense environment if reinstatement occurs, a threat assessment team that is trained to assess, manage, and mitigate these types of situations will certainly come in handy for the school and school community.
- For K-12 schools, a Title IX sexual harassment complaint must be formally filed by the alleged victim’s parent/guardian. There may be circumstances where the Title IX coordinator will need to proceed with an investigation, even if the victim and their parent/guardian elect to not file a formal complaint. A threat assessment team can help determine what circumstances elicit a school to initiate their Title IX process.
- Parents now play a bigger role in the new Title IX grievance process, as mentioned above. Managing parent behavior can be a tricky concept, and adding in the sensitive nature of sexual harassment and assault, does not make this process any easier. A well-trained threat assessment team can help manage hostile situations that may arise with parents.
- Sexual harassment/assault/violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence (potential Title IX cases) are all actions that could lead to further acts of violence by the perpetrator. As such, these types of activities should be assessed and managed by a thoroughly trained threat assessment team.
- Assemble a multidisciplinary threat assessment team. Members from Administration, Security, Legal, Human Resources, Law Enforcement, Mental Health/Student Services, Special Education, and Title IX departments should all be represented on this team.
- Properly and thoroughly train the team on the principles of threat assessment.
- Empower the team. The team should meet regularly, not just when a threat assessment needs to be conducted.
How Vector Solutions Can Help
Free On-Demand Webinar: New Rules on Title IX for K-12 Schools
This on-demand webinar provides an overview of the most significant changes in these New Rules for K-12 schools and strategies on how best to incorporate these changes. View Webinar
Online Staff and Student Training
The SafeSchools Online Training System offers courses to help both your staff and students address Title IX-related issues, including:
- School Violence: Identifying & Addressing
- Sexual Harassment: Staff-to-Staff
- Sexual Harassment: Student Issues & Response
- Sexual Misconduct: Staff-to-Student
- Threat Assessment
- Title IX Compliance Overview
For students, we offer Sexual Harassment (Grades 6-8) and Sexual Harassment (Grades 9-12).
Contact us at [email protected] to learn more about how our Staff or Student Training can help you understand the new Title IX regulations and address sexual harassment and assault in your district.