Gov. Phil Murphy has signed A-4075/3229 into law, requiring the board of education in each school district and the board of trustees at each charter school or renaissance school in New Jersey to develop and adopt a policy for the establishment of a threat assessment team at their respective schools.
According to a press release from Murphy’s office, threat assessment teams provide school teachers, administrators and other staff members with assistance in identifying students of concern, assessing those students’ risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and delivering intervention strategies to manage the risk of harm for students who pose a potential safety risk to prevent targeted violence in the school and ensuring a safe and secure school environment that enhances the learning experience for all members of the school community.
“Keeping public spaces safe from any form of violence or harmful activities, especially in our schools, is of the utmost importance to me and this administration,” Murphy said. “It is my hope these threat assessment teams will help students and school employees feel safe and out of harm’s way when they are at school, and for students who are considered to be a threat to receive the much-needed help they need at such a crucial time in their lives.”
Guidelines for threat assessment teams in each school district and at each charter school and renaissance school will be developed by the New Jersey Department of Education in consultation with state law enforcement agencies and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, according to the press release.
“No one better understands the vulnerabilities of New Jersey’s school communities than those who work there every day, including our teachers, administrators, school counselors, school safety specialists and resource officers,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education.
“Creating comprehensive threat assessment teams, comprised of these individuals, ensures increased awareness of at-risk behaviors and informs strategic intervention for those behaviors that may pose a safety risk. The establishment of threat assessment teams will result in safer school environments,” she said.
The threat assessment team, which is to be established by a board of education or a board of trustees in each district, shall be multidisciplinary in membership, including a school psychologist, school counselor, school social worker, or other school employee with expertise in student counseling; a teaching staff member; a school principal or other senior school administrator; a safe schools resource officer or school employee who serves as a school liaison to law enforcement; and the designated school safety specialist, according to the press release.
This law will take effect immediately for the 2022-23 school year, according to the press release.