School Safety Training: Workshop on School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG)

Upcoming School Threat Assessment Training.

Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) Workshop

The school safety training for threat assessment teams runs approximately 6.5 hours of presentation time, not including breaks. There is a short pre-training and post-training evaluation form that allows us to give teams an evaluation report after the workshop. Before the workshop, we provide a 60+ page PDF that has workshop slides, threat assessment forms, and case exercises that teams can copy and provide to all participants AND to any other school staff in their school system. We also provide each attendee with a copy of the 2018 publication of Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines – a $50 value.

Who should attend?

A typical team will include a school administrator (e.g., principal or assistant principal), one or more mental health professionals (such as a school psychologist, counselor, and social worker), and a law enforcement officer (often a school resource officer). Depending on school staffing patterns, some schools will choose to include teachers, a school nurse, or others who have expertise working with troubled students.

What is covered in the CSTAG workshop?

  1. Rationale for threat assessment
    • Misconceptions about the nature and scope of school violence
    • Ineffective responses to school violence – zero-tolerance discipline and excessive security measures
    • Public health approach to prevention using a multi-tiered model – prevention, not prediction of violence
    • Case study of a school shooting that illustrates the need for threat assessment
  2. How to conduct a threat assessment
    • FBI and Secret Service/Department of Education principles of threat assessment
    • Development of the Virginia model, including the decision tree and interview process (including practice interview)
    • How to identify and resolve transient threats
    • How to identify and resolve substantive threats
    • Mental health assessments – when, why, and how
  3. Cases studies illustrating the three pathways to violence
    • Conflict pathway
    • Antisocial pathway
    • Psychotic pathway
  4. Research support for threat assessment
    • Brief and non-technical overview of the field tests, controlled studies, and large-scale implementation study
    • Benefits of threat assessment – low rates of threats being carried out, reductions in-school suspension, reductions in racial/ethnic disparities in discipline, improvements in school climate
  5. Legal and practical issues
    • Confidentiality and the need to warn potential victims, the Tarasoff case, what FERPA permits schools to do
    • Liability – how threat assessment provides protection
  6. Team exercises to resolve transient and substantive threats of violence
  7. Next steps in implementing threat assessment at your school
    • Free online training
    • Orientation for students, parents, and staff
    • Questions and answers on implementation

The information in this article was adapted from the CSTAG workshop description by School Threat Assessment Consultants LLC. Paul Mascari of Clearwall Safety Consultants LLC is an authorized provider of the CSTAG workshop for Southeastern Wisconsin.