Behavioral Threat Assessment legislation has been making the rounds in most states. Typically, there is language around the use of a “documentation instrument” to assist in tracking the assessments. Let’s take a closer look as to how documentation actually works.
As a result of the school shootings, there have been a number of experts who have emerged in the industry. Some are educators, some are from law enforcement and, most notably, the U.S. Secret Service.
Documentation tools have been developed to track and collect important data whenever there was an threat/incident at a school. For example, was the subject male or female, location and date of incident, etc. In the past, the goal was to collect data, but that thought process has shifted recently. The importance of collecting meaningful data beyond the “what, when and where” has become the Behavioral Threat Assessment Model. These models help track/identify warning signs, unresolved grievances, bullying and so on, that can assist in mitigating the threat. They have been the backbone of the majority of behavioral threat assessment trainings that have taken place nationwide and been adopted by many school districts.
It’s clear that teachers and administrators are not case managers. In fact, the school system as a whole was never set up to case manage its students. There are school counselors who assist with a variety of issues with teacher input, but there has been minimal documentation requirements overall.
This is all new!!
I just filled out the forms from one of the more popular threat assessment “instruments”. Great questions but…the first segment, the Threat Form took me ½ hour to complete. That did not factor in other records review, like a prior incident, interviewing the subject, the target, and the witness, and creating a Behavior Intervention Plan. I didn’t get to the mental health assessment. That has to be done by another specialty. It includes a parent interview and then Behavioral Threat Assessment Team discussion and tracking of the student and their behavior. And more documentation…
Oh, did I mention I had multiple phone calls and people leaning in my office doorway with documentation worthy details about other cases. I am writing, writing, writing as fast as I can, hoping to remember what they said?!
The point is, assuming one gets it all down, at the end of the day, it typically goes in a nice manila folder, labeled with a new name sticker with the first few letters of the last name and Student ID number for privacy. All neatly alphabetized in my locked file cabinet. Yet, who else knows of all my efforts??? So 1985.
The information is critical, but the communication of the information among BTA team members is the only hope of truly managing and mitigating a threat.
By now you must be using these forms and understand the time they take. Some schools are reporting up to 10 assessments per day! Leaving spaces blank may not serve you in the event a threat is actually carried out. Like the form says, “you will want documentation to show that you made a defensible effort to assess the threat.”
A Better Way to Document. And share…
There is a better way to document, still use these important models, and share this data. If the above scenario is familiar to you, please give USA Software a call today and at least get a Demo. 1-800-872-1931.
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