For purposes of district or school-based threat assessments of students, the following definitions will apply:
- A school-based threat assessment means the formal process, established by a school district, of evaluating the threatening, or potentially threatening, behavior of a student, and the circumstances surrounding the threat, to uncover any facts or evidence that the student or other actor is likely to carry out the threat.
- School-based threat management means the development and implementation of a plan to manage or reduce the threatening, or potentially threatening, behavior of a student in a way that increases the physical and psychological safety of students, staff, and visitors, while providing for the education of all students.
- A threat is an expression of an intent to cause physical harm to self/others. The threat may be expressed/communicated behaviorally, orally, visually, in writing, electronically, or through any other means; and is considered a threat regardless of whether it is observed by or communicated directly to the target of the threat or observed by or communicated to a third party; and regardless of whether the target of the threat is aware of the threat. Threats may be direct, such as “I am going to beat you up.” or indirect, such as, “I’m going to get him.”
- A low-risk threat is one in which it is determined that the individual/situation does not appear to pose a threat of serious harm to self/others, and any exhibited issues/concerns can be resolved easily.
- A moderate-risk threat is one in which the person/situation does not appear to pose a threat of violence, or serious harm to self/others, at this time; but exhibits behaviors that indicate a continuing intent and potential for future violence or serious harm to self/others; and/or exhibits other concerning behavior that requires intervention.
- A high-risk threat is one in which the person/situation appears to pose a threat of violence, exhibiting behaviors that indicate both a continuing intent to harm self/others and efforts to acquire the capacity to carry out the plan; and may also exhibit other concerning behavior that requires intervention.
- An imminent threat exists when the person/situation appears to pose a clear and immediate threat of serious violence toward self/others that requires containment and action to protect identified or identifiable target(s); and may also exhibit other concerning behaviors that require intervention.
Six principles form the foundation of the threat assessment process. These principles are:
- Targeted violence is the end result of an understandable, and often discernible, process of thinking and behavior.
- Targeted violence stems from an interaction among the individual, the situation, the setting, and the target.
- An investigative, skeptical, inquisitive mindset is critical to successful threat assessment.
- Effective threat assessment is based upon facts rather than on characteristics or “traits.”
- An "integrated systems approach” should guide threat assessment inquiries and investigations.
- The central question in a threat assessment inquiry or investigation is whether a student poses a threat, not whether the student has made a threat.
Identifying and Reporting Threats
Timely reporting of expression to harm is crucial to an effective school-based threat assessment program.
Anyone, including students, families, and community members may report communication or behavior that appears to be threatening or potentially threatening to the school administrator, district security or district administrators.
All school district employees, volunteers, and contractors should report immediately to the school administrator any expression of intent to harm another person, concerning communications, or concerning behaviors that suggest an individual may intend to commit an act of violence.
Anyone who believes that a person or situation poses an imminent threat of serious violence that requires containment should notify school security and/or law enforcement and their administrator.
A School-based threat assessment is distinct from a law enforcement investigation (if any). The goal of the threat assessment process is to take appropriate preventive or corrective measures to maintain a safe and secure school environment, to protect and support potential victims, and to provide assistance, as needed, to the individual being assessed. School-based threat assessment is also distinct from student discipline procedures. However, the functions of school-based threat assessment may run parallel to student discipline procedures.
Threat assessment is mandatory when:
- A gun is brought to school.
- For weapons, such as a knife when the intent is present or is greater than three inches. a necessary first step to determine intent or threat when a weapon such as gun is not brought to school, but is included in a photo, rumor, or social media post.
Training and School Based Teams
The Superintendent designee will oversee all threat assessments. The Superintendent’s designee will ensure that threat assessment teams are trained and developed for all schools within the district. All threat assessment team members shall be trained to informally review and make decisions on whether to implement intermediary interventions beginning with pre-assessment.
The superintendent will designate a team leader for each threat assessment team(s), such as a school principal or a district administrator. If it is not feasible for all team members to be involved with the screening of initial reports referred to the team, the threat assessment team leader may designate a subset of team members to triage cases and determine their appropriateness for review and/or action by the full team. If a team implements a triage process, at least two members of the team will review initial reports and determine if the full team should further assess and manage the situation. All triaged cases must be shared with all members of the assessment team to ensure the cases were adequately addressed. All threat assessment team members shall be trained to triage cases effectively.
The school-based administrator and its designee will lead a subset of the full threat assessment team to complete a Pre-assessment within three school days of the incident. The subset will include a building administrator, social worker or a staff familiar with student. If student has an IEP, a member of the student’s IEP team must participate. If the pre-assessment is not indicated, a dismissal form is completed and uploaded into the secure site. The pre-assessment includes communication with the parent.
Upon notification of threatening behavior or communications, the building administrator, threat assessment team, or triage team shall first determine if an imminent threat is believed to exist. If the individual poses an imminent threat of serious violence to themselves or to others in the school, the administrator or assessment team shall notify law enforcement.
Moderate or high-risk threat
If the threat assessment team cannot determine with a reasonable degree of confidence that the alleged incident poses a threat, then the threat assessment team will undertake a more in-depth assessment to determine the nature and degree of any safety concerns and to develop strategies to prevent violence and reduce risk, as necessary. This threat assessment must be completed within 10 days of the incident. If the student has an Individual Education Plan (IEP), with the manifestation timeline. e threat assessment process can occur concurrently with a Safety & Security investigation. Once completed, the threat assessment will be uploaded into the secure site within two days.
The threat assessment team’s review may include but is not limited to, reviews of records; interviews and consultations with staff, students, family members, community members, and others who know the individual; and interviews of the individual and the target/recipient of the threat(s). The threat assessment team, with the help of the counselor, social worker or anyone trained in self-harm/suicide assessments, will also screen for risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation, regardless of whether the alleged threat also included possible self-harm.
Upon a determination that a student poses a threat of violence or physical harm to self or others, a threat assessment team shall immediately report its determination to the building administrators and notify their ILED and provide access to any necessary documentation relate to the BLTA incident. The building administrators shall immediately attempt to notify the student’s parent or legal guardian. The district will ensure that the notice is in a language the parent and/or guardian understands, which may require language assistance for parents or guardians with limited-English proficiency under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In instances where the threat is deemed moderate risk or high risk requires further intervention to prevent violence or serious harm, the school administrator shall notify the parent and/or guardian of any student who is the target/recipient of a threat as well as the parent and/or guardian of any student who made the threat. See Policy 4314 Notification of Threats of Violence or Harm. The district will ensure that the notice is in a language the parent and/or guardian understands, which may require language assistance for parents or guardians with limited-English proficiency under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
If the threat assessment team determines that an individual poses a threat of violence, based on the information collected, the threat assessment team develops, implements, and monitors intervention strategies to address, reduce, and mitigate the threat and assistance to those involved, as needed. If these strategies include disciplinary consequences, the district will provide notice to the student and their parents or legal guardian consistent with Student Conduct Policy and Procedure 3240.
The threat assessment team may assist individual(s) within the school to access appropriate school and community-based resources for support and/or further intervention. This includes assisting those who engaged in threatening behavior or communication, and any impacted staff or students.
A school assessment team should consider requestioning a level 2 complex case review if:
- You have concerns regarding extreme aggression but are unable to confidently answer questions on the protocol.
- You have confidently answered the questions on the protocol and have safety concerns regarding impulsive or reactive behavior that will likely result in serious or lethal injury to another.
- You have confidently answered the questions on the protocol and have concerns regarding threats of targeted aggression that indicate motive, plan, preparation, scheduling, and/or other behavior that suggests the serious consideration of an act of targeted aggression.
- You have exhausted your building resources and would like to explore community support to assist you with supervision.
The school administrator can contact their assigned ILED to request a Level 2 complex case review.
In cases where the student whose behavior is threatening or potentially threatening also has a disability, the threat assessment team must include a member of the student’s IEP team and align intervention strategies with the student’s individualized education program (IEP) or the student’s plan developed under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 (section 504 plan) by coordinating with the student’s IEP team or section 504 plan team.
No identifiable threat or low risk threat
If the threat assessment team concludes that no further assessment is necessary to determine the reported possible threat is not identifiable or constitutes a low threat of violence or harm to self or others, the threat assessment team need not intervene or take further steps. Documentation is uploaded onto a secure site within two days of the assessment.
Data Collection, Review and Reporting
The superintendent shall establish procedures for collecting and submitting data related to the school-based threat assessment program that comply with OSPI’s monitoring requirements, processes, and guidelines.
Management Resources: 2019 – December 2019 – December Policy Issue
2020 – December Issue
Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Superintendent: June 2023