PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island State Police captain behind a newly proposed bill to keep kids safer in school says it’s all about being proactive instead of reactive.
The legislation would require schools to form “threat assessment teams,” and is sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.
Rhode Island State Police Capt. Derek Borek spoke at the State House Wednesday night on behalf of the legislation.
“We want to make sure that everyone across the board in the state of Rhode Island has this. Because quite frankly, I get calls quite often people ask me what do we do about this problem child?” Borek said. “I want to show that everyone in the state of Rhode Island has the same protocols and ways they would go about handling that individual.”
The threat assessment team would include the school psychologist, a social worker, the principal and other leaders, who would meet on a regular basis and discuss students whose behavior is concerning.
State police would also provide free training and informational booklets.
Students and teachers would be encouraged to report threatening or concerning behavior to the committee to try and prevent violence.
Wednesday night’s hearing also included testimony from the ACLU of Rhode Island, which raised some concerns about the bill.
“Our concern is really that without more specific statutory guidance, the policies adopted in the proceedings of a threat assessment may adversely affect rights of the assessed student,” ACLU of Rhode Island representative Hannah Stern said.
The ACLU also suggested adding more language to the bill protecting students’ rights.
This would include immediately notifying parents if a threat assessment is going to be done on their child and requiring all information obtained during an assessment to eventually be destroyed.
Click here to read the entire bill.