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LA County: District to get School Threat Assessment Response Teams; goal to prevent violence

Aug 3, 2018, Long Beach (CA) Signal Tribune: County Board of Supervisors votes to expand school-shooting prevention team The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a proposal by 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn and co-authored by 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger to expand and strengthen a program that aims to prevent shootings and violence at LA County schools. . The School Threat Assessment Response Team (START) is a program established under the Department of Mental Health (DMH) made up of mental-health professionals who respond to principals, counselors, school security officers or parents worried about students who have talked about suicide, exhibited concerning behavior or made threats. After receiving a credible threat, START members visit the school, evaluate the student and go to the student’s home, according to Hahn’s office. In most cases, START can recommend counseling. In more serious cases, the student might be put on a 72-hour hold or arrested if a crime has been committed. The START program currently is made up of 10 staff members. However, in response to the increase in high-profile school shootings across the country, in February Hahn and Barger proposed examining ways the team could be expanded and strengthened. … The DMH provided a report back with several recommendations including expanding the START program, developing an education outreach program to train students, teachers and community members to recognize and report threats, and develop a countywide communications awareness campaign. … With passage of this motion, the DMH will partner with the Los Angeles County Office of Education to reach out to all LA County school districts to provide resources for a school-violence prevention-awareness campaign, training modules and a school-violence prevention video for school orientations ahead of this coming school year. “In partnership with law-enforcement and our schools, the START program is an important tool that can work to prevent tragedies by responding to clear warning signs and cries for help by those who may be a danger to themselves or others,” Barger said. “We must ensure that our schools, parents, teachers and students help us gather information and so that mental health professionals can effectively assess and address concerning behavior.”

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