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SD Gets $2M to Prevent School Violence; Can’t Spend on Guns or Active-Shooter Training

Speaking of school violence, South Dakota has received just about $2 million from the federal government to prevent school violence. The dollars from the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Program will fund the following activities:

  • $998,000 – This grant will allow the state to establish a School Safety Resource Center. The center can help distribute best practices for school safety, requests for training for threat recognition, training in establishment of threat adjudication teams, and requests for physical security assessments for K-12 school building.
  • $500,000 – This grant will focus on establishing prevention and mental health training programs in conjunction with mental health professionals.
  • $500,000 – This grant will focus on technology and threat assessment solutions for safe schools programs [Office of the Governor, press release, 2019.10.15].

The money is meant to help schools, but it will be administered by the state Office of Homeland Security. Schools cannot spend this federal money to purchase weapons, equipment or fund salaries of in-school cops, but that first $998,000 chunk goes to more state bureaucracy and “new staff members… hired to oversee the programs.”

(Governor Noem promised to resist government bloat. Oh well.)

The other half of the money may actually reach our schools and help them improve mental health services, assess threats, and look for other ways to prevent violence. The federal grant conditions require that the money be spent on “evidence-based strategies and programs“:

Specifically, the STOP Violence Act requires that any programs, practices, technologies, or equipment funded by BJA demonstrate a statistically significant effect on outcomes based on:

  • Strong evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented experimental study
  • Moderate evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental study
  • Promising evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias [Bureau of Justice Administration, “STOP School Violence Program,” retrieved 2019.10.18].

So no, you cannot spend this STOP School Violence grant on active shooter trainings. Spend the money on programs that will prevent shootings from happening, not do physical and psychic violence to teachers and students alike the faint and unsubstantiated hope that they’ll respond better if violence happens.


  1. Debbo 2019-10-18

    It appears NoMa’am loves Big Government.

    I’d rather see about 75%+ of the $ going to schools to hire counselors, for mental health care, classes in bullying prevention, developing empathy, dating relationships, teacher professional development, etc.

    It seems to me that school shootings perpetrated by students usually involve students who’ve felt alienated in some way or wanting to “get back at” a girl who rejected him. Those should be focal areas.

    Some might say schools should just focus on the basics, but it’s pretty difficult to teach reading and writing to dead students.

  2. mike from iowa 2019-10-19

    How much government largesse will prissy partisan fauxknee kristians waste on bibles for every student in public schools? If you are going to sin, or in this case violate the constitutions of state and Federal governments, you might as well go bigly.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-19

    If there must be state coordination of federal funds for school safety, why is that funding not being coordinated by the Department of Education? Do we really want more law enforcement authority over our school buildings? There’s a strong hint here of the spread of the police state.

    As Debbo notes, the problem seems less one of law enforcement and policing tactics (and bunker mentality?) and more one of psychology and counseling, the proper purview of educators, not security personnel.

  4. o 2019-10-19

    Debbo, if you are not too busy, I hope you get in your application for this new school safety resource center director. Clearly the answers to school violence are in your to-do list. Putting some real money toward those programs would do some real good in helping students deal with the feelings and adversities that (even when not taken to the extreme of violence) tie these young men and women up in knots.

  5. Debbo 2019-10-19

    Thank you O. That’s very nice. It would take a lot of $ and a lot more Democrats in the lege to get me back to SD. However, if those were the conditions, I’ll bet I wouldn’t be the only expat returning.

  6. Debbo 2019-10-19

    There is considerable uptick in the number of suicides among teenagers and young adults. Plus, the numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (and Girls) continues to climb. (I wrote a comment and link on the Drunk Dad post about MMIW. Please read.)

    There are plenty of more critical needs for that $ that NoMa’am’s bigger government.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-20

    It seems we’re losing more young people to trafficking and suicide than to school shootings in South Dakota. Turning schools into prisons doesn’t seem to be stemming those larger problems.

  8. Ryan 2019-10-21

    100% of that money should be used for mental health programs. Some killers are just broken people and nothing will fix them, but most are just struggling with something they incorrectly think is insurmountable. Poverty seems to be a big one. Misanthropy is another. Two million bucks won’t come close to solving either, but it could help facilitate a lot of conversations that need to happen. Kids are not armed with healthy coping mechanisms for their stressors because apparently nobody with influence has time or ambition for anything but partisanship and self aggrandizement.

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