Proposed Bill Would Create Threat Assessment Teams at Rhode Island Schools

Proposed Bill Would Create Threat Assessment Teams at Rhode Island Schools

A newly proposed school safety bill would require Rhode Island schools to form “threat assessment teams” to discuss students who display concerning behavior.

A newly proposed school safety bill would require Rhode Island schools to form “threat assessment teams.” The bill is sponsored by Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

Rhode Island State Police Captain Derek Borek, who spoke at the State House on Wednesday on behalf of the bill, said the bill is about being proactive about student safety.

"We want to make sure that everyone across the board in the state of Rhode Island has this,” Borek said. “Because quite frankly I get calls quite often people ask me what do we do about this problem child? So I want to show that everyone in the state of Rhode Island has the same protocols and ways they would go about handling that individual.”

The threat assessment teams would include a school psychologist, a social worker, principal and other school officials. The team would meet regularly to discuss students who display concerning behavior.

Students and school staff would be encouraged to report concerning or threatening behavior to the committee as a method of preventing potential violence.

The State Police would provide free training and informational booklets.

Wednesday’s hearing about the bill also included testimony from the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, which raised some concerns about the bill’s effects on student rights.

"Our concern is really that without more specific statutory guidance, the policies adopted in the proceedings of a threat assessment may adversely affect rights of the assessed student," said Hannah Stern, ACLU of Rhode Island Representative.

The ACLU suggested adding language to the bill that would more specifically protect student rights, such as immediately notifying parents if a threat assessment is going to be performed on their child and requiring all assessment information to eventually be destroyed.

The entire bill can be read here.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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