School districts, charter schools and renaissance schools in New Jersey must develop and adopt a policy for the establishment of a threat assessment team at their schools for the 2023/2024 school year.
According to the recently signed law, the threat assessment teams will provide school teachers, administrators, and other staff with assistance in identifying students of concern, assessing those students’ risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and delivering intervention strategies to manage the risk of harm for students who pose a potential safety risk to prevent targeted violence in the school and ensuring a safe and secure school environment that enhances the learning experience for all members of the school community.
Guidelines for threat assessment teams in each school district, charter school, and renaissance school will be developed by the New Jersey Department of Education in consultation with state law enforcement agencies and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
"We are not only first responders, we are first preventers," said Director Laurie Doran of New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. "The establishment of threat assessment teams in public schools will equip these communities with the resources they need to prevent violence and help ensure the safety of students and educators."
The threat assessment team, which is to be established by a board of education or board of trustees in each district, shall be multidisciplinary in membership, including:
- A school psychologist, school counselor, school social worker or other school employee with expertise in student counseling;
- A teaching staff member;
- A school principal or other senior school administrator;
- A safe schools resource officer or school employee who serves as a school liaison to law enforcement; and
- The designated school safety specialist.
"One of the goals of the threat assessment teams is to avert dangerous incidents that may come from potential school threats," said New Jersey Assemblyman William F. Moen, Jr. "With this kind of program in place, we could address not only the larger issues facing schools but some of the smaller issues as well before they build into something more."