Secret Service Releases Long-awaited School Shooting Study (November 10, 2019)

On Thursday, November 7, 2019, The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center released the results of a study on 41 school shootings (grades K-12) from 2008 to 2017 in the US. The study showed that most students who committed deadly school attacks for that 10-year span displayed behavior that concerned others but were unreported, had disciplinary issues, and were victims of bullying. Attackers were also influenced by and/or emulated previous school shootings.

Previously, the Secret Service published a best practices guide based on some of its research. In addition, the center has scheduled almost 40 training sessions for groups of up to 2,000. Another 7,500 people have already been trained. The training is free.

The study was aimed at determining effective means for training school personnel and law enforcement entities in identifying students who may be at risk of planning attacks and how to effectively intervene prior to an opportunity to attack. The study also showed that attacks usually occurred during school hours and happened in one location (e.g., cafeteria, bathroom or classroom). Attackers were mainly male, but seven were female. 63% of the attackers were white, 15% were black, 5% were Hispanic, 2% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 10% were of two or more races, and 5% were undetermined. Guns were the weapon most commonly used, and most weapons came from the home of the attacker.

Most attackers were young adults, but some were middle schoolers. Many attackers were absent from school before the attack, many due to a school suspension. Many felt they were mistreated by others and over 75% attacked after having problems with someone at school. Some attackers were looking to become famous. A significant number of attackers were suicidal. Most attackers were fixated on violence, watched it online, played games featuring violence, and/or read books and publications that depicted violence.

Click here to see the study.

US Supreme Court is Hearing Important Title VII Arguments (October 8, 2019)

On October 8, 2019, the US Supreme Court began hearing arguments as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status. Schools are watching things closely for two reasons. One reason is that they are employers and will have to adhere to whatever the Court decides in that regard, The second reason is that the decision of the Court will be of great influence with regard to other cases that touch on similar issues involving gender identity and sexual orientation.

US House Passes Bill to Track School Shootings (September 27, 2019)

On September 18, 2019, the US House Education Committee passed the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act, which is legislation that would require the federal government to track the demographics and motivations of school shooters and the demographics of their victims.  The proposed legislation also officially defines a school shooting as an incident “during which one or more individuals were injured or killed by a firearm; and that occurred … in, or on the grounds of, a school, even if before or after school hours; while the victim was traveling to or from a regular session at school; or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school sponsored event.” The definition would exclude accidental shootings.

The law would also require the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to collect information about a school’s safety protocols if a shooting occurs there, from its emergency response plans to its building design. The bill would further require the feds to track the type of firearms used in school shootings, how they were obtained, and whether the school where a shooting occurred had armed educators. 

Since the start of 2018, Education Week has maintained a tracker of school shootings. To date for 2019, we have counted 18 school shootings, resulting in three people killed and 34 injured. 

Feds Release Emergency Planning Guide for Schools (September 27, 2019)

As a result of their  involvement on the Federal Commission on School Safety a new emergency planning guide has been jointly created and released by the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services in order to aid school districts in developing customized emergency response plans. The document is titled The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans. It directs districts to make sure that plans include all types of hazards, including natural disasters and gun violence. It also includes a checklist of actionable items such as developing a fact sheet on possible threats and training staff with regard to the emergency plan. In December 2018, the commission also issued 100 policy recommendations aimed at protecting students at school. 

Along with many possible strategies, some school districts are training staff, including school resource officers, in providing social-emotional support as a preventative approach.

For more information on this topic visit Education Dive.

HR2527 Would Make School Vaccinations Federally Mandated (September 1, 2019)

In the wake of the largest outbreak of measles in the US in two-and-a-half decades, H.R. 2527 has been introduced to the US House of Representatives by Rep. Fredrica Wilson (D-Fla). Wilson’s proposed legislation, titled the “Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019,” would make it mandatory for children enrolled in public schools to be vaccinated. The bill would become federal law, usurping state authority in the matter of required vaccinations.  Failure to comply with the law would result in a state’s ability to receive certain federal grants.

However, if a physician determines that a child’s health would be jeopardized by a required vaccination, an exception could be made as long as the school district’s physician or other designated school health official would need to concur with any such determination.

As of September 1, 2019, the bill is in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.