Local schools taking threat assessment seriously

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GRAYSON COUNTY, Tex. (KXII) -- In 2008, the U.S. Secret Service national Threat Assessment Center released the Bystander Study: a report that explained prior to most attacks at school, other students knew of the attackers' plans yet most did not report it to an adult.

"Why wouldn't somebody say, you know, that's really not normal. We need to check and see what's going on here," said Denison Superintendent Dr. Henry Scott.

Last year, a 14-year-old Denison student was arrested after sending a group text advising others not to come to school because the student allegedly planned to shoot other students then kill himself.

Schools are now trying to be proactive to prevent threats from ever becoming reality.

"All schools have some sort of threat assessment-type model and there's different sources for that," said Dr. Tyson Bennett, Assistant Superintendent for Sherman schools.

In Sherman, that means every teacher is trained to look out for signs of mental or emotional turmoil and taught where and how to report it.

Administrators say the protocol is not new.

"We really want our staff to see whenever and notice whenever a student may be in crisis, an emotional situation or a mental health crisis situation so we can focus in on that," said Bennett.

For Denison schools, a team of teachers and staff was sent to Houston in the spring for the secret service briefing on school shootings.

A team of people on each campus will observe threats on each campus and meet regularly to discuss them.

Then the team can intervene if they see a reason.

This is the first year Denison is implementing the program.

"I contend most of these school shootings could have been prevented. There were red flags that people ignored," said Scott.

Both districts say school safety starts with the students.

"I think a very important part of threat assessment is listening to your students," said Bennett.

So their focus is on the relationship teachers and administrators build with them.

"They believe you can arm the teachers, do all this, put metal detectors up, I still think the human part of it is more important than the other. You've got to have both, though," said Scott.