Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $850,476)
Creating Caring, Connected School Communities
The School District of Lee County serves nearly 96,000 students in 120 schools including charter schools. Data gathered by the district shows an increasing and alarming number of threat assessment incidents and Baker Acts*at our district secondary schools. While the district has developed technology systems and school hardening to address threats at the schools, as recommended after the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and Parkland, we have not yet provided education for students and staff on preventing violence and embracing a culture that empowers schools to assist students in crisis. This remains a gap in our ability to provide a safe school environment for staff and students *(A Florida Mental Health Act passed to allow the creation of mental health programs designed to reduce the occurrence, severity, duration and disabling aspects of mental, emotion and behavioral disorders)
Keeping the safety of our staff and students in mind, the School District will partner with Sandy Hook Promise and local law enforcement to focus on educational training programs for students and staff on preventing violence in our schools to support the improvement of school culture and create caring, connected school communities across our district. The mission of Sandy Hook Promise is to end school shootings and create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children. Sandy Hook was created by the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The educational training programs provided by the organization will teach students and staff to recognize, intervene and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated or at risk of hurting themselves or others.
In collaboration, the School District and Sandy Hook Promise will deliver training at 38 secondary schools including 3 secondary charter schools for over 52,000 students and more than 4,000 staff over the next three years. The educational Know the Signs programs including Start with Hello and Say Something will teach students and staff how to prevent school violence, shootings and other harmful acts and how to identify at-risk behaviors. Both programs will be delivered in person at each school via an assembly format with options for virtual training. Each school will also participate in Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Promise Clubs. The Clubs empower students to take charge of keeping schools safe by modeling and reinforcing the message to sustain a Caring, Connected School Community.