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Author: PoliceOne Sponsors

By Dr. Judy Riffle, P1 Contributor

I refuse to let frequent school shootings become the “new norm.” The fiery actions of a few defies logic, common sense and most of all, human decency.

The first time I recollect seeing a mass school shooting on television was the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. As I write this article, I realize school violence has been present my entire lifetime. My mother-in-law was assigned and taught a 14-year-old boy in St. Albans, West Virginia, in his house in 1978. The 14-year-old was on pre-trial house arrest, awaiting trial for shooting and killing another teenage boy in the junior high school hallway.

How can you help your school and community develop safety initiatives to avoid these tragic events?

One program available to enhance safety for your school and community is the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) grant, which is due May 2, 2018. The targeted applicants are many and varied: local education agencies, state education agencies, local governments, Indian tribes, non-profit and for-profit organizations and institutions of higher education (public and private) may apply.

CSSI “funds rigorous research to produce practical knowledge that can improve the safety of students and schools.” Collaboration and alliance between researchers, social workers, educators, police departments and courts are vital and mandatory to be awarded the CSSI. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) areas of interest for awarding CSSI are:

School shootings; School Resource Officers; School discipline and school coordination with the Criminal Justice System; Disinvestment in ineffective school safety programs; Bullying and cyberbullying intervention and prevention; School safety in non-classroom settings; Implementation and Translation of School Safety Research.

Remember that the CSSI grant is not a vehicle for purchasing equipment or supplies, unless they are required for project research, evaluation, analysis, development or demonstration.

For safety is not a gadget, but a state of mind.”

Use safety expert Eleanor Everet’s words as inspiration to fund your CSSI project and the following resources to help you start your application under the following five funding categories.

Category 1: Developing Novel and Innovative School Safety Programs, Practices and Strategies

A novel example is the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OOHS), which developed and implemented “Innovative Practice, Oklahoma’s School Safety Initiative.” The OOHS offers six security courses; in particular, “the two-day school security training program includes courses on security assessments, emergency planning and preparedness, school bus security and active shooters in schools.” Also included are partnerships with mental health professionals, guidance counselors and school psychologists; together, they “identify warning signs in youth that may pose a risk to their school.”

Category 2: Demonstration, Evaluation, and Validation Tests for School Safety

In lay terms, Category 2 is a threat assessment that is implemented, tested and proven. A resource for these three matters is the Threat Assessment for School Administrators & Crisis Teams by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Category 3: Expanding the Use of Effective Interventions Through Scaling-Up

The adage, “reinvent the wheel” comes to mind for scaling-up existing plans. Why research, develop, write and implement a new school safety plan when you can scale-up the existing plan? Per CSSI, “the purpose of Category 3 is to expand the implementation of interventions that have demonstrated positive results and have a strong evidence base.”

Category 4: Research on School Safety

CSSI is “particularly interested in understudied practices and strategies related to school safety.” One such research study is Shootings in U.S. Schools are Linked to Increased Unemploymentfrom Northwestern University. The study “indicates that increases in gun violence in our schools can result from disappointment and despair during periods of increased unemployment, when getting an education does not necessarily lead to finding work.”

Category 5: Translation and Dissemination of Comprehensive School Safety Initiative Findings

One strategy CSSI is looking for is “hosting training and technical assistance webinars on school safety topics.” A benchmark for hosting school safety webinars is Supportive School Discipline Webinar Series from the National Center for Safe Supportive Learning Environments.


About the author

Dr. Judy Riffle owns Santa Cruz Grants & Consulting, LLC, and has raised 17 million dollars for various schools, school districts, and nonprofits. Funded grants include public school/charter school entitlement grants such as ESEA Consolidated, IDEA Basic, and Title III LEP. Funded competitive grants include: McKinney-Vento Supplemental Education for Homeless Children & Youth, State Tutoring, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, School Improvement (SIG), CA Community Colleges Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation, New York Learning Technology, Arizona Pilot Program on School Emergency Readiness, Baptist Community Ministries, Safeway Foundation, Tucson Electric Power, Cox Charities, Del E. Webb Foundation, and Arizona Disabled Veteran Foundation. Dr. Riffle is a former K-12 teacher, education specialist, new teacher mentor, and administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education, and educational leadership. Besides being a member of the Grant Professionals Foundation (GPF) Board of Directors, she also chairs the GPF Marketing Committee, and serves on the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Grant News Publications Subcommittee. Since December 2016, she has written monthly grant related articles for educationgrantshelp.com.

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