National experts on threat assessment, targeted violence and violence prevention trained school districts on ways to identify and respond to violent threats on Monday.
SIGMA Threat Management Associates from Washington D.C. conducted a seven-hour training, which included threat scenarios. The free event was made possible by Target Restoration Services and Baylor University's Department of Public Safety.
SIGMA Co-Founder Dr. Marisa Randazzo, who was part of the U.S. Secret Service for 10 years, taught the group about steps to follow after the report is made, ways to gather information from people and ways to not stigmatize students.
"Most importantly how to make an objective assessment. Is this a situation where there is a real risk of violence, and if so what steps can we take as a school, as a community to reduce that risk," Randazzo said.
Mike Matranga, who is former U.S. Secret Service is now the Executive Director of Security and School Safety at Texas ISD, also gave a presentation during the session.
"It's unfortunate that we have tragedies that have lead us where we are today, but I do believe that educating people on threat assessment and what to look for in these particular instances will make us more successful as a society," Matranga said.
China Spring School Superintendent Dr. Marc Faulkner said the training is another tool to increase school safety.
"Having this knowledge for us to be able to identify some kids and meet about and try to assess the threat to see how serious the threat is and to see what we need to do from there, is just valuable information to have," Faulkner said.
His school district is adding several initiatives toward school safety this year, including adding an additional resource officer and implementing a "See Something, Say Something" program that allows people to report safety concerns. China Spring High School is adding fencing around separate buildings and installing door barricades in each classroom.
"If they were to have an active shooter or some reason for us to go on lockdown, we could deploy those door barricades in a matter of 10-15 seconds per room," Faulkner said.
La Vega ISD is also taking steps to increase safety, including adding three police officers to the district's department and requiring students from seventh to 12th grade to use clear backpacks. The campuses will give free backpacks to those who can't afford it.
"It's just another way to visually inspect on what's been brought into the campuses and try to ensure additional safety," La Vega ISD Superintendent Dr. Sharon Shields said.
She said the information would help put the proper preventive steps in place to ensure additional safety.
"It helps to ensure that we are aware of the best practices that are out there at the federal level, state level, that we can put into place, and eliminate that type of situation from happening," Faulkner said.
A representative from the Texas Governor's Office attended the event to gather feedback from the group.
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