The N.C. Department of Public Instruction's Center for Safer Schools has been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million from the U.S. Justice Department to enhance the key supports it provides to the state's 116 school districts and nearly 200 charter schools.
The Center for Safer Schools will work in partnership with several other organizations, including Triangle-based RTI International, to assess the needs of local districts and develop an array of training, technical assistance and supports to improve safety in the state's schools.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson said the grant will help efforts that are already underway to ensure the safety of students and staff.
"We are increasing school safety measures across the entire state, including more School Resource Officers and mental-health supports in our schools," Johnson said. "Teachers and other school staff members work hard to ensure safe environments, and this added support will make their efforts even more effective."
The Center serves to promote safe learning environments and serves as a hub of information and technical assistance on school safety to faculty and staff, law enforcement, youth-serving community agencies, juvenile justice officials, policymakers, parents, guardians and students.
Center staff focus on school climate, school discipline and emergency preparedness. concerns for North Carolina's public K-12 schools. Staff provide trainings, guidance and technical assistance upon request for school faculty and staff, and those working with children and adolescents.
Under the three-year grant, funded by the STOP School Violence Technology and Threat Assessment Solutions for Safer Schools Program, the Center will focus on three key areas: training and technical assistance; resources and policies; and partnerships and coordination.
To set priorities, the Center will conduct a needs-assessment survey of superintendents, principals and safety directors and gauge how schools and districts use the Center's resources. Training, technical assistance and support will then be provided based on the needs and interests of schools and districts.
In addition, the grant will help support the Center's efforts to provide robust information on its website about evidence-based practices and policies as well as a searchable online library containing critical resources.
The Center plans also to strengthen and develop partnerships through the Center for Safer Schools Task Force, which was begun in 2013 and includes parents, students, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement, juvenile justice professionals and mental health providers.
In addition to RTI International, which will manage the grant-supported project, the effort will also draw on support from three other organizations with expertise in school safety-related issues, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, SIGMA Threat Management Associates and the Center for Applied Research Solutions.