Missouri's Department of Public Safety and several school districts have been awarded nearly $2.6 million of federal money designated for the prevention and reduction of school violence.
DPS received more than $999,300 from the U.S. Department of Justice's STOP School Violence program.
That grant program was established when Congress passed the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018. The grants managed by the DOJ support states, local governments and federally recognized Native American tribes to combat school violence, according to a Monday news release from the DOJ.
The program includes three separate funding channels: technology and threat assessment solutions; prevention and mental health training; and training and technical assistance.
The grant for DPS — through the technology and threat assessment solutions channel — is to be spent over three years, department Communications Director Mike O'Connell told the News Tribune in an email Tuesday.
The grant — applied for in June — would support a "School Safety Academy" run through the Missouri Center for Education Safety, O'Connell said.
STOP School Violence grants for technology and threat assessment solutions can be used for threat assessments, crisis intervention teams, anonymous reporting technology, and to create or enhance State School Safety Centers.
The Missouri Center of Education Safety — which is under the Missouri School Boards' Association — is the state's school safety center, and the School Safety Academy will "provide resources and conduct training for people around the state on school safety," O'Connell said.
The idea would be to involve a wide variety of people, including law enforcement, counselors, social workers and schools' communication staff, he said.
While individual schools are ultimately responsible for their safety efforts, "a statewide school safety center with robust information sharing, training, technical support, and other capabilities provides a depth and breadth of resources and expertise to better prepare individual schools and districts," according to the final report issued in July by Missouri's School Safety Task Force.
"There is no consistency on how state level school safety centers are funded, and Missouri's current Center for Education Safety funding has been minimal since its inception as a pubic/private partnership between the Department of Public Safety and the Missouri School Boards' Association in 2010," the report added.
According to the Center for Education Safety's website, the center currently offers opportunities including behavioral risk training and youth mental health first aid — both funded by previous DOJ grants and available to all Missouri schools and colleges at no cost.
The DOJ also announced Monday that 10 school districts in Missouri — in Breckenridge, Cape Girardeau, Laddonia, Lawson, Ralls County, Raytown, St. Louis, Steele, Stoutland and Warsaw — also received a total of almost $1.6 million in federal funding, either through the STOP School Violence program's funding channels or the DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, program.
The COPS Office provides schools up to 75 percent funding to work with local law enforcement on measures including coordination; training for law enforcement officers; metal detectors, locks, lighting and other deterrent measures; and "technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency," according to a news release Monday from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
The DOJ announced Monday that more than $85.3 million in school safety grants had been awarded nationally.
More details about individual award programs and a listing of awardees is available at go.usa.gov/xVJuV.