Congress Enacts New Evidence-based School Safety Program

The $1.3 billion omnibus spending package signed into law by President Trump on March 23 includes another evidence-based program — this one devoted to “evidence-based school safety programs.”

The program is a bipartisan response to recent school shootings in Florida and elsewhere.  An earlier version of the bill, called the Stop School Violence Act, passed the House on March 14 by a vote of 407-10. The proposal also drew the support of the Trump administration and the NRA.

The new program’s evidence provisions are very similar to those included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced NCLB. They include the same top four evidence tiers — strong, moderate, promising, and demonstrates a rationale (although the last is modified slightly). The law has different evidence standards for technology and equipment. [Note: the earlier House-passed version of the proposal did not spell out the evidence provisions, the final enacted version did — see p. 1979.]

The new law also reportedly clarifies that the Centers for Disease Control is not barred from conducting research on gun violence. According to a story in The Washington Post, “the language is included in a report, attached to the spending bill, that is intended as guidance to federal agencies.”

Under the new law, evidence-based school safety programs will be identified by the Department of Justice. The new program will be funded at $75 million this year and $100 million each year from FY 2019-2028. Funded services may include:

  • Training school personnel and students to prevent student violence against others and self.
  • The development and operation of anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications, hotlines, and Internet websites.
  • The development and operation of: (A) school threat assessment and intervention teams that may include coordination with law enforcement agencies and school personnel; and (B) specialized training for school officials in responding to mental health crises.
  • Any other measure that, in the determination of the BJA Director, may provide a significant improvement in training, threat assessments and reporting, and violence prevention.
  • Coordination with local law enforcement.
  • Training for local law enforcement officers to prevent student violence against others and self.
  • Placement and use of metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other deterrent measures.
  • Acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency.
  • Any other measure that, in the determination of the COPS Director, may provide a significant improvement in security.


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