A new system for assessing and documenting school safety threats, as well as identifying students in distress so they can be helped, is being implemented in the Wilkes County School District.

It’s called School Safety Manager, a secure online record system with an ultimate goal of preventing violence.

It makes four different forms available for reporting concerns related to student behavior. There are forms for teachers/staff, elementary school students, secondary (middle and high school) students and parents. Parents will have access to forms through PowerSchool, a secure online portal giving parents access to their children’s homework assignments, grades and more.

School Safety Manager is a software system from Edclick, a Texas-based company that provides K-12-related software for managing student behavior.

April Marr, student services director in the Wilkes schools, said School Safety Manager incorporates a threat assessment model already used in the local school system. “It supports the training we already received,” Marr explained. “It’s very user friendly.”

She said School Safety Manager complies with G.S. 115C-105.51, a new state law requiring that schools have systems for reporting on internal or external risks to the school population, school buildings and school-related activities.

Marr said software for School Safety Manager has been installed and Wilkes school principals, assistant principals and student services support staff (counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists) have received training for the system.

Principals and school safety teams make initial assessments of submitted forms.

Forms for elementary students provide blocks for youths to check to indicate they want to talk to someone about their family, friends, school work, “myself” or “my class.” There are also blocks to indicate concerns about bullying or threats; knives, guns or bombs; “someone might be in danger” or “something secret or private.”

Forms for secondary students have blocks for indicating concern about a larger number of particular expressions of aggression or violence. Parental forms have blocks to check for concerns about aggression/violence, but also about academic matters.

Elementary and secondary student forms and parental forms all also have blocks to indicate the matter is “an emergency,” “very important” or “this can wait.”

According to information from Edclick, School Safety Manager is designed to organize and share information about students in distress with appropriate school and other personnel after completed forms are assessed. It provides a documented basis for monitoring and providing help for students in distress.

When a completed form is submitted, the first step is evaluating what was reported to determine if it constitutes a threat. This can include interviewing the person who reported it, any intended victims and others, to determine the context and seriousness of what was reported.

If it does constitute a threat, the next step is to determine if it can easily be resolved as transient and add services as needed. Certain prescribed steps are taken if the threat is found to be substantive. A safety evaluation is conducted and a safety plan is implemented and monitored if necessary. Assistance ranging from individual or group counseling to law enforcement can be involved.

According to Edclick, certain risk factors for violence such as inappropriate use of firearms and violent threats should trigger immediate action.

Marr made a presentation on School Safety Manager at the Jan. 6 Wilkes County Board of Education meeting.

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