Fairfield County School Threat Assessment and Response Program

The Fairfield County Educational Service Center (ESC) has helped to lead the creation of a county-wide protocol aimed at preventing school violence and cultivating a safer educational environment for students. The School Threat Assessment and Response Program was established in response to the growing need for a unified model for school safety. The protocol was enacted on January 23, 2024 during a signing ceremony as part of Fairfield County Juvenile Court Judge Terre Vandervoort’s update to the County Commissioners.

The protocol is designed to address student safety in a proactive manner, prioritizing prevention over reaction. Representatives from local law enforcement, prosecutors’ offices, ADAMH, and Fairfield County Juvenile Court signed the Statement of Support affirming the following: “Participating partners support the countywide effort to collaborate in the community response to school threats, emphasizing school safety, public awareness, ongoing training, and partner input as the countywide protocol evolves to meet partner and community needs.”

By assessing threats and determining their severity, the program allows for early intervention, ensuring that issues are addressed before they escalate. Under this new protocol, low-level threats will be managed by the schools, offering a tailored response that aligns with each district’s unique needs.

“Fairfield County Juvenile Court is honored to have worked in collaboration with Fairfield County schools, law enforcement, prosecutors and ADAMH Board in developing this countywide protocol,” said Judge Vandervoort. “Early assessment is critical as school safety is and has always been a community priority, and I am proud to have Fairfield County lead the way in Ohio.”

The School Threat Assessment and Response Program convenes the efforts of law enforcement, behavioral and mental health agencies, the Fairfield County Prosecutor’s office, and local schools. This innovative protocol marks a departure from the challenges posed by separate operating procedures, offering a coordinated and proactive response to potential school safety threats.

Local leaders across Fairfield County join County Commissioners during the signing ceremony for the School Threat Assessment and Response Protocol Community Partner Statement of Support.

A key feature of the Fairfield County School Threat Assessment and Response program is its county-wide implementation, meeting the state of Ohio’s mandate for schools to have a response plan in place in a more efficient way. Recognizing the diversity among schools in Fairfield County, the program has been constructed to accommodate the distinct models employed by each district, ensuring a comprehensive and adaptable approach.

Will Kirby, Assistant Superintendent of Fairfield County ESC, emphasized the program’s commitment to community investment, stating, “This program is an investment in the safety of the students and educators in our community. By proactively addressing threats and supporting students through a comprehensive intervention phase, we are fostering a safe and nurturing environment for our students to thrive. We worked with our safety officials, school districts, courts, behavioral health experts and educators to ensure the protocol addresses all of the factors that need to be addressed when challenges arise.”

The Fairfield County Educational Service Center provides student-centered educational leadership and supportive services to meet the individual and collective needs of the staff, students and boards of education of the eight local school districts located in Fairfield County. More information can be found at faircoesc.org

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Addison Culver, Krile Communications

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