Maryland County BOE Approves Plan to Assemble Threat Assessment Teams

Maryland County BOE Approves Plan to Assemble Threat Assessment Teams

The Montgomery County Board of Education, which oversees the largest school system in Maryland, gave final approval Monday to a policy requiring campuses to create behavioral threat assessment teams to screen for potentially violent or threatening students or community members.

The Montgomery County Board of Education, which oversees the largest school system in Maryland, gave final approval Monday to a policy requiring campuses to create behavioral threat assessment teams to screen for potentially violent or threatening students or community members. The policy will bring Montgomery County into compliance with Maryland’s Safe to Learn Act.

The new policy requires that each school establish a behavior threat assessment team. The teams must include administrators, law enforcement and staff members trained to respond to mental health problems, and interact with non-English speakers and students who have special needs.

The policy also mandates that school-based threat assessment teams will handle incidents involving students and the districtwide team will deal with threats from community members or staff.

“I think this is one of the most important policies we’re adopting,” school board vice president Pat O’Neill said. “We have to plan, prepare, analyze and then at the end of the day pray that nothing, no terrible event, happens here in MCPS. We have to do everything we can to ensure our buildings are secure … so we are aware of the possibility and support our students.”

Members of the behavioral assessment threat teams will each undergo a two-day training about how to react to threats based on their level in a “pathway to violence scale,” which is used to measure a person’s threat level. Threat levels on this scale range from low, requiring little intervention, to imminent threats that would call for contacting law enforcement and implementing a lockdown.

According to the policy, early intervention programs will be established to help students who are at risk for violent behavior get appropriate help.

“Once again, MCPS is on the cutting edge as we deal with school safety and wellness of our students,” said Ed Clarke, director of the school system’s Department of School Safety and Security.

The school board will be provided with annual reports on the number of behavioral threat assessments.

The new policy has other, general charges, including that every student should have a “trusting relationship with at least one responsible adult,” and that “all students, faculty and staff are treated with respect.”

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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