Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,588,357)
NC Department of Public Instruction (NC-DPI) houses the NC Center for Safer Schools (NC-CFSS). NC-CFSS is entrusted and mandated by the NC General Assembly to provide strategies to ensure the safety of approximately 1.5 million students. The NC-CFSS and their partners train and support School Resource Officers (SRO) and the teaching staff of the 2557 public and 203 charter schools in North Carolina. This grant will allow the NC-CFSS to enhance current training, expand pieces of training to include administrative staff, and hire four School Safety Specialists to oversee the training.
The NC-CFSS will provide the following training: crime prevention through environmental design, critical incidents, active shooter drills, de-escalation, and reunification. Typically, SROs, teachers, and principals are the only ones who attend school safety training. Due to COVID-19, many schools have witnessed a higher turnover in staff. Additionally, although there are over 2,700 schools, there are only approximately 1,500 SROs. Many schools do not have SROs due to their rural location, lack of funding, or the lack of local law enforcement personnel. This grant will allow NC-CFSS to enhance the training given to SROs and the teaching staff and expand the training to include the often-overlooked administrative staff: school nurses, front desk clerks, parent volunteers, substitute teachers, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and counselors, often the unsung heroes of many public schools. These school staff workers will receive the appropriate training to report or de-escalate potential threats and respond appropriately to critical incidents, thus mitigating the damage. These strategies will improve the school climate. NC-DPI has divided NC into eight school regions; these regions have large city schools and rural and low-wealth schools without the support of SROs. The four newly hired School Safety Specialists will each oversee training for two of the eight school regions.
NC-CFSS is supported by numerous experts in school safety, including the NC State Bureau of Investigation (NC-SBI) Behavioral Threat Assessment Unit (BeTA). NC-SBI follows the US Secret Service Threat Assessment model. The 2019 “A US Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence” identified 41 incidents of targeted school violence from January 2008 through December 2017. Of these attacks, 22% were ended by non-law enforcement staff, and no attackers were stopped by outside law enforcement responding to the scene from off school grounds. NC-CFSS will use this report and other research-backed data to enhance and expand evidence-based training throughout NC.