SCHOOL SAFETY AND YOUTH IN CRISIS
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04:37 PM -- Kanan-Nicoletti Report
Linda Kanan, John Nicoletti, and Sarah Garrido came to the table to present their report and its findings. They introduced themselves and distributed two handouts to the committee (Attachments E and F). Dr. Kanan thanked the committee for the opportunity to present the team's findings and offered condolences to the Davis family. She clarified their independence from LPS and spoke about her focus on psychological safety in schools. She said that safety is not just physical and that it also includes school climate and perceptions of safety. She described her team's work researching psychological safety and threat assessment in LPS and spoke about her gap analysis. She described how the team's report reviews practices and procedures in place in 2013, efforts to improve, and practices and procedures in place now. She said the team had provided to the LPS school board a series of 21 recommendations, and clarified that her presentation would focus more broadly on lessons learned for all Colorado schools.
Dr. Kanan described prevention efforts as including planning, awareness training, and the impact on both mental health personnel and disciplinary personnel. She stated that gaps in 2013 included awareness of behavior concerns and reporting of concerns, and that the use of reporting mechanisms was informal and not systematic. She said that there were also misunderstandings of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), mental health and discipline teaming, reasonable suspicion searches, and searches of electronic media. She said that since 2013, the use of Safe2Tell has increased, and an teacher tab in the LPS student data system (Infinite Campus) is now being piloted.
Dr. Kanan listed her recommendations:
- • district level safe schools planning team
• use of objective and student reports or climate survey data
• awareness training that is explicit, repeated yearly across employee groups, students, parents, and community (what to watch for, what to report, importance of timely reporting
• mental health and discipline need to work together and have ongoing training
• FERPA should not be a barrier
She stated that one in five children have mental health problems, that many do not get help, and that Colorado lags in ratios of mental health professionals to students. She said that LPS has increased mental health staff 22 percent over the last two years, but that sustaining that increase will be difficult because of the financial impact to the district. She explained that disciplinary staff need more training in how to deal with students who exhibit concerning behaviors.
Dr. Kanan described the threat assessment process, training of personnel, and documentation. She said that the gaps were in the implementation of the process because there was no use of an information vortex, the composition of team was problematic, and so was the evaluation of information, follow-up, and monitoring plan. She spoke about disparities in who gets trained, what training they get, and how that varies from district to district. She advocated for the addition of district-level threat assessment teams, for consultation and to review cases.
05:01 PM -- Dr. Nicoletti described his work with Dr. Garrido to review the threat assessment conducted on Karl Pierson, and how they looked at other threat assessments as well. He described what a threat assessment is, and talked about the differences between profiling and threat assessment. He also spoke about trend analysis and the relative risk for varying types of attacks. He talked about AHS' threat assessment and stated that his came out differently than the one done by LPS. He described two categories of responsibility: detectors and disruptors. He said that detectors are those who see events leading up to an event, and that disruptors are those who take action to prevent an event. He said that both need to function, but that at AHS, there was a breakdown among the detectors. He described students observing behaviors and not reporting those behaviors, and he explored the causes of that failure to report. He spoke about threat management, as opposed to stand-alone threat assessments. He described the need for countermeasures to concerning behaviors and explained that countermeasures need contingency plans in case they fail.
05:09 PM -- Ms. Garrido spoke about helping schools identify overreporting and underreporting. She defined those terms and spoke about countermeasures, and said that schools do not necessarily know what their options are if they perceive a threat, particularly if an intervention does not work.
05:11 PM -- Dr. Nicoletti spoke about mental health professionals missing Karl Pierson's risk. He said that the data source for a community mental health evaluation is usually just a conversation with the patient. He explained that one major variable in violent incidents is mental health, but that focusing solely on mental health diagnoses causes both over- and under-reactions. He said that there is no statistically significant category of diagnosis for attackers, and explained that many have no diagnosis. He said that mental health is a causative factor, but not a predictor of violent incidents. He spoke about the importance of a centralized data collection point, or information vortex.
05:14 PM -- Dr. Kanan spoke about the need for better training for faculty, staff, and students. She explained the risk of unilateral decision making on what is supposed to be a threat assessment team. She described the forms schools are using and how to improve them. She explained that diagnosis should not be a category on these forms, and talked about crisis recovery efforts.
The panelists responded to questions from the committee.