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.