MPUSD team members participate in threat assessment training

San Mateo COE Threat Assessment Training

MPUSD is working hard to keep our schools, students and staff safe beyond regular drills and physical barriers.

On May 26, more than 70 MPUSD elementary, middle and high school team members, including principals, assistant principals, family services specialist, mental health therapists, social workers and counselors participated in comprehensive threat assessment training provided by the San Mateo County Office of Education.

Participants learned how to better understand and support students and assess student threats. This training was scheduled before Tuesday's deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Partners from the City of Marina and City of Seaside police departments also joined the sessions. The training covered how to work with students, staff, families, school site personnel and the community, including the importance of law enforcement representation.

Staff learned various levels of threat assessments and how to initiate and review student case management. Finally, they walked through case studies to further support what to look for in threats.

"It's great to have some structure and ideas, and I am excited for MPUSD to have its own tiered protocol and process," said Ashley Shaffer, Counselor, Walter Colton Middle School, about today's program.

Training was conducted by Molly Henricks, LMFT, School Safety and Risk Prevention Coordinator for the San Mateo County Office of Education. Each three-hour session highlighted the fundamentals of student threat assessment, implementation of the student threat assessment process and how to put the learning into action.

“One of the biggest reasons to establish a protocol is because it is the best preventive measure for school violence if done correctly,” said Henricks. “The thing we have noticed with history is that there is always signs that they were going to do something and if we can learn what the indicators are and watch for the behaviors of concern, then we can establish a system or protocol to address the students of concern and get them mental health support and care so they can heal and don’t follow through on threats of violence.”

The first hour of the training provided key information regarding the importance of engaging the whole community of stakeholders, including the district, school, community and law enforcement. Participants learned about specific warning signs to look for and were guided through San Mateo County's threat assessment model.

The second hour covered how and when to implement a comprehensive student threat assessment process at school sites, including the establishment and maintenance of case management.

The third hour walked participants through case studies, and participants were able to ask questions and ask for feedback on cases they are seeing in their work.

MPUSD will move forward to enhance its own threat assessment in the fall of 2022.

“We have a risk assessment handbook and it's well developed,” said Branham Sanborn, MPUSD Mental Health Clinician. “We will refresh our protocols, take what we learned from San Mateo and make it our own.”