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 Comprehensive School Threat Assessment (CSTAG) framework shall be used for responding to student threats/high-risk behaviours.
Substantive and Transient threat terminology are foundational components in the CSTAG model and part of the threat assessment decision tree. Other terms align with the crisis response manual.
- Substantive Threats are defined as statements or actions that express a continuing intent to harm someone. A substantive threat has substance. They may indicate a desire to harm someone that extends beyond the immediate incident. If there is doubt or uncertainty whether a threat is substantive, it should be treated as such.
- Transient Threats can be easily and quickly resolved. They are often expressions of anger, frustration or intended as humour or a metaphor. There was no intent to carry out the threatened act.
- 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 a threat 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.
- Threat Assessment Team
The threat assessment 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 Coordinator of Counselling or Superintendent designate should be consulted throughout the process including whether or not to follow through with a threat assessment. The primary purpose of the threat assessment team is data collection and immediate risk reduction interventions.
- 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 or Superintendent designate 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.
- In coordination with the Coordinator of Counseling or Superintendent designate, the principal shall lead the threat assessment team.
- The principal or family school liaison counsellor shall coordinate the preparation of the assessment and any associated documentation.
- Immediate Risk Procedures
- 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 threat assessment 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 threat assessment team will determine whether or not charges will be laid.
- If the police choose not to lay initial charges, the threat assessment team shall continue to conduct a risk assessment and determine follow-up recommendations.
- 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.
- 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 threat assessment team 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 or Superintendent designate shall be consulted.
- The principal and the Coordinator of Counselling or Superintendent designate shall determine police involvement.
Threat/Risk Assessment Report
- The School Threat Assessment Decision Tree should guide the response to a perceived threat and accompanying documentation.
- Documentation is necessary for both transient and substantive threats. Transient threat documentation should include a threat report, interviews, key observations and threat response. A substantive threat may include further documentation such as the mental health assessment and behaviour intervention plan. All documents can be found in the CSTAG manual.
- The Principal will ensure documentation is completed for both transient and substantive threats, which shall be uploaded in a shared digital folder within seven days of the completion of the investigation.
- The notification of a completed threat assessment will be placed in the student record portfolio.
- Education Act, Section 31, 33, 36
- Section 264.1(1), Criminal Code of Canada
- Forms: Threat Assessment Fair Notice Letter (Sent home in the fall).
- CSTAG Threat Report.pdf
- CSTAG Key Observations.pdf
- CSTAG Threat Response.pdf
- CSTAG Observations Suggesting Need for Intervention.pdf
- Appendix A CSTAG Threat Assessment Decision Tree.pdf
- Appendix B Threat_Assessment_Notice. April 2021.pdf