Threat assessment is a structured multidisciplinary group process used to evaluate the risk posed by a student or another person, typically as a response to an actual or perceived threat or concerning behavior. The primary purpose of threat assessment is to prevent targeted violence. The threat assessment process is centered upon an analysis of the facts and evidence of behavior in each situation. Protocols are designed with recommendations of experts and focus on situation variables (not demographic characteristics).
- Identify and assess threats of potentially harmful or lethal behavior and determine the level of concern and action required.
- Organize resources and strategies to manage situations involving students that pose threats to other students and/or staff.
- Maintain a sense of psychological safety among our students, staff, and families.
Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment System
The state of Washington has adopted the Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment System. When a student or students are identified as a potential risk to others, they are assessed using a two-level approach:
School staff are trained to complete the Level 1 Threat Assessment. A school-based team includes a school administrator, school counselor, and law enforcement or SRO officer. Teams can also include teachers, parents/guardians, and others when appropriate. This team works to understand the threat, risk, and resources the school has to address it. Components of the Level 1 Threat Assessment include the Level 1 Protocol, Parent Interview, Staff questionnaire, Student Interview and Student Witness form. Upon completion of the Level 1 Threat Assessment, a safety a support plan are developed. In addition, a referral may be made for a Level 2 Threat Assessment.
Initiate Level 1 assessment if the following is known or suspected:
- Threat, aggression, or violence is specific to identified target with motive and plan.
- Threat, aggression, or violence is causing considerable fear or disruption to activity.
- Weapon at school or attempt to bring a weapon.
- There is continued intent to carry out threat.
- There is a history of threats, aggression, or violence.
- Staff, parent, or student intuition suggests a need to investigate threatening circumstances.
- Administrator is unable to determine if a situation poses a risk to school personnel or the community.
If the school team determines the situation is high risk, in need of more help with the investigation, or it lacks necessary resources, the Level 2 community-based multi-disciplinary team is called. They provide recommendations for resources and additional support in developing a plan for the student with the goal of increasing safety for the student, school and community. This team is comprised of Educational Service District and education district leaders and local mental health and law enforcement professionals. In addition, Juvenile Justice, Child Protective Services, and other agencies may be called in as needed. A Level 1 Threat Assessment must be completed before a Level 2 referral can be made.
Reasons to proceed with a Level 2 referral:
- You have concerns regarding extreme aggression but are unable to confidently answer questions on this protocol.
- You have confidently answered the questions on this protocol and have safety concerns regarding impulsive or reactive behavior that will likely result in serious or lethal injury to another.
- You have confidently answered the questions on this protocol and have concerns regarding threats of targeted aggression that indicate motive, plan, preparation, scheduling, and/or other behavior that suggests the serious consideration of an act of targeted aggression.
- You have exhausted your building resources and would like to explore community support to assist you with supervision.
- Always request a Level 2 if a student(s) of concern brought a gun to school, attempted to acquire a gun with intent to harm or intimidate others, or has been arrested for firearm-related offenses in the community.
What is a Student Threat Assessment System?
The Student Threat Assessment is a team process that focuses on factors which may influence a student to threaten and/or act in a dangerous way. The threat assessment team also provides recommendations/considerations with the goal of developing a safety and support plan for students and the school community. Threat assessment is a school-based process that parents are invited into as participants. This is different than other processes where “due process” rights mandate parent participation.
Why is a Threat Assessment needed for my child?
The student has threatened and/or acted in a way that raises concern about the student, another student, and/or the school community. Safety is a priority for our community, so a team is brought together to give problem-solving recommendations and resources for your child, family, and the school community.
Who is involved in the Threat Assessment process?
In a Level I Threat Assessment, parents and school staff complete questionnaires and interview forms that ask for important information about the student’s behavior, strengths, and challenges. The threat assessment Site Team includes school staff members who know the student and includes you as a parent. Occasionally, the Level I process will also involve the Student Threat Assessment Coordinator from Educational Service District 113. A safety and support plan is developed based on the assessment information that is gathered and/or a referral is made for a Level II Assessment.
In a Level II Threat Assessment, the threat assessment team expands to include community resources. A community team may include members from law enforcement, mental health services, juvenile court, and the Department of Children and Family Services. This team is specifically trained in threat assessment. The community team provides support and additional resources and/or links to resources. This expanded team helps develop a plan for the student with the goal of increasing safety for the student and the school community.
What if I disagree with the plan that is developed by the team?
As the parent you are an expert on your child and your perspective is important. The safety and support plan is developed by an experienced team and, as the parent, being open to the team’s recommendations may be a key to helping your child to be successful at school. If you disagree with the consultation provided in the Level I Threat Assessment, feel free to discuss this during the Level I meeting if you are present or with the school personnel who has contacted you about this process. Decision-making regarding the threat assessment plan recommendations and considerations are the responsibility of the school.
Comprehensive School Safety
Support for comprehensive school safety planning, otherwise referred to as emergency operations planning (EOP).
Provide support for school district development and implementation of comprehensive safe school planning under RCW 28A.320.125.
Assist in ICS/NIMS training for school administration in collaboration with emergency management as needed.
Build partnerships with community partners (such as emergency responders, and law enforcement agencies), for the purpose of implementing comprehensive safe school planning.
Work with districts to assist in the develop of their skills and readiness to respond when emergencies occur.
Contribute, inform, and support implementation of the “safety and security staff training program” per HB 1214 (2021). This includes collaborating across the ESD Network to inform the content, design, delivery, and documentation of training opportunities for School Resource Officers and School Safety and Security Staff.
Behavioral Health Navigation
Through legislative support, the Behavioral Health Navigator assists school districts within the ESD 113 region with the development and implementation of comprehensive suicide prevention and behavioral health support for students. The Behavioral Health Navigator engages in community and state partnerships and collaboration with community partners to increase access to care for youth and families.
Our Behavioral Health Navigator program offers no cost training, consultation and support for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention, as well as behavioral health service and resource navigation.
Our services include:
- Suicide prevention training for school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers;
- Facilitating partnerships and coordination between existing systems of behavioral health and school districts;
- Assisting school districts in building capacity to identify and support students in need of behavioral health care services;
- Providing Medicaid billing related training, technical assistance, and coordination between school districts; and
- Guidance in implementing best practices in response to, and to recover from, the suicide or attempted suicide of a student.
Executive Director, Integrated Student Support – Intervention, Prevention, Treatment and Wellness
Student Services Manager
Student Threat Assessment Coordinator
Comprehensive School Safety Coordinator
Behavioral Health Navigator