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The Legislature’s comprehensive safety bill, Senate Bill 11, added Texas Education Code § 37.115, which requires the board of trustees of each school district to establish a “threat assessment and safe and supportive school team” to serve at each campus of the district.  The team is responsible for developing and implementing a safe and supportive school program that assesses and deals with threats of suicide, violence, and drug use.

Policies and procedures adopted by the board related to the team must be consistent with the model policies and procedures developed by the Texas School Safety Center.  Teams must complete training provided by the Texas School Safety Center or a regional education service center regarding evidence-based threat assessment programs. Teams are also required to report their activities to the Texas Education Agency.  The reporting requirements are outlined in Texas Education Code § 37.115(k).

The superintendent must ensure that the members appointed to each team have expertise in counseling, behavior management, mental health and substance use, classroom instruction, special education, school administration, school safety and security, emergency management, and law enforcement.  A team may serve more than one campus of a school district, provided that each district campus is assigned a team.

A committee designated by the superintendent may oversee the team.  That committee must include members with expertise in human resources, education, special education, counseling, behavior management, school administration, mental health and substance use, school safety and security, emergency management, and law enforcement.

Threat assessments by the team must (1) assess and report individuals who make threats of violence or exhibit harmful, threatening, or violent behavior; and (2) gather and analyze data to determine the level of risk and appropriate intervention.  This may include referring a student for mental health assessment and implementing an escalation procedure, if appropriate based on the team’s assessment.

Teams also provide guidance to students and school employees on recognizing harmful, threatening, or violent behavior that may pose a threat to the community, school, or individual, and support the district in implementing the district’s multihazard emergency operations plan.

Written consent from a parent or person standing in parental relation to the student is required before a team may provide a mental health care service to a student who is under 18 years of age.  The student’s parent or person standing in parental relation to the student may give consent for a student to receive ongoing services or may limit consent to one or more services provided on a single occasion.

On a determination that a student or other individual poses a serious risk of violence to themselves or others, a team shall immediately report the team’s determination to the superintendent.  If the individual is a student, the superintendent shall immediately attempt to inform the parent or person standing in parental relation to the student. These requirements are not intended to prevent an employee of the school from acting immediately to stop an imminent threat or respond to an emergency.

A team identifying a student at risk of suicide shall act in accordance with the district’s suicide prevention program.  If the student at risk of suicide also makes a threat of violence to others, the team shall conduct a threat assessment in addition to actions taken in accordance with the district’s suicide prevention program.  If a student is found using or possessing tobacco, drugs, or alcohol, the team must follow district policies and procedures related to substance use prevention and intervention.

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