AP 317 - Threat Assessment Protocol
The division is committed to creating and maintaining an environment in schools where students, staff, parents and others feel safe. To this end, the following Violent Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) protocol shall be used for responding to student threats/high-risk behaviours.
- High-risk behaviours include, but are not limited to, possession of weapons, bomb threats, threats to kill or injure others and fire setting. Threats may be written, verbal, posted on the internet or made by gesture. They may be direct, indirect, conditional or veiled. All high-risk student behaviours, as defined, shall be reported to the principal, who will consult with the multi-disciplinary team and determine whether to activate the protocol for the Level I Violent Threat/Risk Assessment. High-risk behaviours of a student twelve (12) years of age and older who is believed to have contravened Section 264.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which states that a person “who in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat to cause death or bodily harm” has committed an offense.
- Immediate risk situations are those situations involving high risk that require immediate police intervention and a protective school response. An example would be when a student is making a threat and is in possession of a weapon.
- Worrisome behaviours are those that cause concern for members of the school system indicating that a student is moving toward a greater risk of violent behaviour. This may include drawing pictures, writing stories or making vague statements that do not, of themselves, constitute “uttering threats” as defined by law but are causing concern for some members of the school community because of their violent content.
- The Level 1 Violent Threat/Risk Assessment Team (VTRA Team) is composed of the principal, the family school liaison counsellor and should include a police officer and may also include the classroom teacher and/or consulting teacher when involving a student with special needs. The primary purpose of the Level I VTRA Team is data collection and immediate risk reduction interventions. The decision to follow through with a VTRA will be made in consultation with the Coordinator of Counselling.
- A Level II VTRA Team is recommended by the Level 1 Team when a more comprehensive response including risk evaluation, long-term intervention and treatment planning are needed. The Coordinator of Counselling will be contacted to initiate expansion of the team to include mental health services, professionals, physicians, child protection staff and others.
- Any person in a school having knowledge of high-risk student behaviour, or having reasonable grounds to believe there is a potential for high-risk behaviour, shall immediately report the information to the principal and/or designate.
- No action shall be taken against a person who makes a report unless it is made maliciously or without reasonable grounds.
- In cases where a report is made maliciously, the person shall be dealt with according to division procedure and the law, where applicable.
- Fair Notice
- Prior to any threat assessment protocol being implemented, all students, staff and parents shall be provided with information about the protocol and procedures so that “fair notice” is given that threat behaviour will not be tolerated.
- The Coordinator of Counselling shall take the lead to ensure that the principal will communicate with students, staff and parents so they are aware of the protocol and that a consistent message is given regarding the use of the protocol.
- Duty to Respond
- Schools shall respond to all high-risk/threat-related behaviours. All high-risk behaviours shall be taken seriously and assessed accordingly.
- The principal shall lead the Level 1 VTRA Team.
- The family school liaison counsellor shall coordinate the preparation of the assessment and any associated documentation.
- Immediate Risk Procedures
- These are those matters for immediate police intervention.
- The principal or designate shall contact the police immediately and take steps to ensure the safety of all those in the school by activating established procedures such as school evacuation or school security (lockdown).
- The principal shall notify the Superintendent as soon as possible following the initial police contact.
- High-Risk Behaviours
- Upon receiving a report of high-risk behaviour, the principal or designate shall initiate the protocol for the Level I response of the VTRA Team composed of the principal, family school liaison counsellor and police in order to assess the high-risk behaviour.
- In cases where it is believed a Criminal Code violation has occurred, the police officer assigned to the VTRA Team will determine whether or not charges will be laid.
- If the police choose not to lay initial charges, the VTRA Team shall continue to conduct a risk assessment and determine follow-up recommendations.
- Although there is ongoing collaboration among VTRA Team members, each team member has his/her own “jurisdiction.”
- The principal shall notify the parent(s) of the student making the threat at the earliest opportunity, as well as the parents of those students against whom the threat was made. Parents become an integral part of the initial risk assessment process.
- When information collected as part of the Level I response suggests that a student who has displayed high-risk behaviour poses a significant risk/threat, the Level 2 VTRA membership would be requested through the Coordinator of Counselling.
- In order to protect others and/or the threat maker, students may be suspended from school by the principal during the assessment period. (A suspension may create the necessary context for the high-risk student who is already struggling with suicidal or homicidal ideation. When a suspension occurs, a key question beyond “when to suspend” is “where to suspend.” The isolation and disconnection felt by high-risk students during a suspension may be exacerbated if steps are not taken to keep the student connected to healthy supports.)
- The VTRA Team (Level I and/or Level II) shall guide the process from initial assessment to planning interventions to decrease risk, to plans for re-entry to school where a suspension has occurred.
- If circumstances warrant, and following the completion of necessary assessments, team members may work with the student(s) and their parent(s) to complete an Intervention Plan that becomes a signed contract by all participants.
- Duty to Victims and Others
- The family school liaison counsellor shall ensure that appropriate support is provided to those against whom threats have been made.
- The principal shall notify all school staff and parents, if necessary, within a reasonable time period when the protocol has been activated as a result of high-risk behaviour.
- Students Requiring Special Consideration
- When dealing with students under 12 years of age, students with special needs or other exceptional students, accountability/maturation issues and cognitive abilities shall be taken into consideration.
- Since these students can still pose a risk, the Coordinator of Counselling shall be consulted.
- The principal and the Coordinator of Counselling shall determine police involvement. (Some of these students may benefit from police involvement as a way to provide a “teaching moment” for the child.)
- Worrisome Behaviours
- School staff shall communicate all worrisome behaviours to the principal for consultation. They may also consult with the family school liaison counsellor based on the principal’s recommendation.
- School staff, subsequent to consultation with the family school liaison counsellor, shall contact parents when worrisome behaviour is observed.
- The principal shall consult with the Coordinator of Counselling, the family school liaison counsellor and other appropriate staff in determining whether or not the VTRA protocol must be activated. The Coordinator of Counselling may be a member of the team, as necessary.
- The police may be consulted but it is generally not done as a formal complaint.
- Violent Threat/Risk Assessment Report
- The Family School Liaison Counsellor shall be responsible for completing a Violent Threat/Risk Assessment Report, which shall be kept in the student’s confidential file. A copy shall be forwarded to the Coordinator of Counselling .
- The Violent Threat/Risk Summary will be provided to the parent or guardian.
- The notification of a completed Violent Threat/Risk Assessment will be placed in the student record portfolio.
School Act, Section 12, 45
Section 264.1(1), Criminal Code of Canada
Cross Reference: Crisis Response Manual
Forms: Threat Assessment Fair Notice Letter (Sent home in the fall).