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Building Capacity for Threat Assessment and Response in Rural Missouri Schools

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,999,937)

Rural Missouri school districts struggle to address school violence and see higher rates of discipline incidents than other districts in the state. Many lack threat assessment teams to identify and respond to threats of school violence. Statewide, 56% of surveyed districts have not created such teams, despite national guidelines in place for two decades. The challenge persists in part because of the lack of mandates and support for district initiatives at the state level. Most of Missouri’s districts are rural and are particularly vulnerable to gaps in support because of their isolation, small size and lack of the financial and human resources to implement and sustain initiatives. For the (26) rural districts in the proposed project, needs remain, manifested in continued discipline challenges and difficulty attracting and retaining staff. As recent events indicate, rural schools are not immune to violence.

Through the proposed 36-month project, the University of Missouri’s Missouri Prevention Science Institute (MPSI) will build capacity in (26) rural districts serving (60) schools, (13,000+) students across Missouri by creating school-based threat assessment teams, implementing proactive threat identification technology targeting the vulnerable ‘digital anonymity’ of the school-provided computer, train and support to implement complementary evidence-supported programs collectively responding to potential threats of violence, self-harm and harm to others:

Creation of school-based multidisciplinary threat assessment teams to adopt activities aligned with national threat assessment guidelines.
Installation of software on district-owned computers to identify and report behavioral risks to students, including threats of violence, self-harm and harm to others, with training, technical and monitoring support ensuring success and sustainability.
Implementation of the Columbia Protocol and the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG), and construction of structured safety and crisis intervention plans supporting evidence-based school responses to threats of self-harm and harm to others.

To ensure project success, MPSI will partner with SlateXP to implement its LearnSafe software to enable behavioral threat identification, response, and training to schools in each district, customized notifications to prioritize urgent threats, and digital behavior monitoring to support school-based threat assessment activities.

It is anticipated that schools in participating districts will successfully develop and sustain threat assessment teams, using technological solutions and systematic, evidence-supported strategies to identify and respond to threats of school violence. Robust data, including actionable “computer screen capture” data will be collected to track progress toward objectives, including reduced threats and acts of self-harm and harm to others, and to inform iterative evaluation and improvement.

Date Created: September 29, 2022