Under the Salem method, threats are evaluated at a Level One stage by a school-based team that may include school police. If it is determined that parents would be constructive, they can be brought in during the process, the handbook says.
The handbook outlining the Salem method that Parkrose uses advises that aggression exists on a continuum, from a low end of “scratch, bite, hit” up to “rape, strangle, stab, shoot, bomb, kill.”
If school professionals remain unsure at Level One, the protocol goes to Level Two. A broader team completes a second analysis. In Sanders’ case, that included representatives from local police agencies, the county mental health office, a child welfare agency and the county developmental disabilities office.
Proponents of threat assessments say they’re more effective than security measures that make a school feel like a prison. But their impact on students assessed as threats, rather than their value to the school as a whole, is rarely considered.
The impact on this student and his family is horrifying, and the impact on the school, equally so. I’d like to talk about the money.
Because of course, capitalist, but bear with me.
The school spends on school police. They spend on threat assessment protocols and handbooks and they spend on staff time going to meetings and trainings and I’m sure somewhere in here was a seminar/webinar with an insufferable powerpoint and the word “utilizing.”
When, if we had gun laws that made any sense at all in this country, if we had any kind of laws that made any kind of sense, we’d have guidance counselors, not threat assessors. For students with special needs like the one described in the story above, we’d have trained aides and accommodations that would make school and everything that goes with it a learning experience, not a motherfucking gauntlet.
Yes, we’d still worry about violence, about kids with knife collections or irrational grudges, but we wouldn’t worry about them re-enacting the opening of Saving Private Ryan on Senior Skip Day, because we’d do what these idiots up in that story are trying to do with “threat assessments,” and take care of our goddamn kids.
We could do all of that with the money we spend on the things we do instead of taking the guns. We are making these endless end-runs around the thing we think we can’t address and it’s so exhausting watching us lie to ourselves that we’re powerless, that we HAVE to do the threat assessments and the stupid meetings and spend more on school police when what we have to do is take away the guns.
It would be CHEAPER, Jesus, if that’s your only metric, if the flagrant civil rights violations aren’t apparent, if the counterproductive nonsense detailed above isn’t enough, if all that persuades you is the spreadsheet, think of how much time it would save.
We can do all of that, or we can take the guns. You tell me which sounds better. And then you vote in November for the people most likely to SOLVE the problem, instead of assessing the threat.