Threat Assessment in Virginia

Over the past decade, the Commonwealth of Virginia has led the nation in efforts to implement threat assessment procedures in institutions of higher education and pre-K-12 public schools.  In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring public institutions of higher education to establish threat assessment teams with the goal of preventing violence on campus by assessing behaviors and intervening with individuals who may pose a threat to campus safety.  In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation requiring all public school divisions to establish and operate threat assessment teams in support of their schools- making Virginia the first state in the country to require such action.     

With the requirement of threat assessment mandates, the General Assembly also directed the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (VCSCS) to study the application and implementation of threat assessment, develop model policies, procedures, and resources on threat assessment, and provide training to support institutions of higher education and pre-K-12 public schools.  To satisfy these requirements, the VCSCS worked hand in hand with research partners, service providers, and subject matter experts to provide resources for schools, campuses, and law enforcement.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there Threat Assessment training available?

Yes, each year VCSCS offers several training sessions on threat assessment.  The training is targeted to institutions of higher education and pre-k-12 schools.  The trainings feature an overview of threat assessment, details of forming and operating a threat assessment team, the identification of threats, and legal issues, among other topics.  Visit the DCJS training website to find trainings near you! 



What are threat assessment teams?

Higher Education

Virginia Code states that each public institution of higher educations must establish a threat assessment team that includes representatives from law enforcement, mental health professions, student affairs, human resources, and if available higher education counsel. The purpose of the team is to implement assessment, intervention, and action policies such as recognition of threatening behaviors and threat reporting mechanisms.  The teams are also required to establish relationships with local and state law enforcement and mental health agencies to assist in assessment and intervention.

Pre-K-12

Per Virginia Code, all Virginia pre-k-12 public schools must be covered by a threat assessment team and each school board must adopt policies for the assessment of individuals and students whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of the school. Each team must include persons with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration, and law enforcement. The team should work to provide guidance to students, faculty, and staff on recognizing threatening behavior, identify members of the school community to whom threats should be reported, implement threat assessment policies and procedures, and report data on threat assessments to VCSCS.  For a quick overview of threat assessment in Virginia’s pre-K-12 schools, check out the VCSCS video: An Overview of Threat Assessment Prevention.



What is threat assessment?

A threat assessment is a fact-based process emphasizing an appraisal of observed (or reasonably observable) behaviors to identify potentially dangerous or violent situations, to investigate/assess them, and to manage/address them.

The goal of threat assessment is to determine if the subject is on a pathway to violence.  The overall goal of threat assessment is to ensure the safety of all involved.  



Resources

Institutions of Higher Education

Summary of 2016 changes to the threat assessment code

Report on Threat Assessment Teams in Virginia Institutions of Higher Education

Pre-K-12

VCSCS’ Threat Assessment Model Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines and Training Guide

Fillable Threat Assessment Form for Threat Assessment Teams (word version)

An Overview of Threat Assessment Prevention for School Staff, Parents, and Community Members (accompanying video)

The Youth Violence Project of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia recently developed online educational programs for students, parents, and school staff as a tool to assist in the understanding of the threat assessment process.  The programs are field tested and available for use by all schools in Virginia.  This two minute preview provides a sample of the student program.  For more information about the programs and for access to view the full videos, please contact Jennifer Maeng, Ph.D., project director at jlc7d@virginia.edu.

Articles of Interest

New Study Assesses Virginia Public Schools' Success in Detecting Serious Threats

Contacts

Donna Michaelis, Manager
804.371.6506
Email Donna

James Christian, School Safety Coordinator
804.786.4303
Email James

Marc Dawkins, Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Coordinator
804.225.3431
Email Marc