4039: Threat Assessment and Response

The ESU board is committed to providing a safe environment for members of the ESU community. Students, staff, and patrons are urged to immediately report any statements or behavior that makes the observer fearful or uncomfortable about the safety of the ESU and ESU program environment.

1. Definitions

a. A threat is an expression of a willful intent to physically or sexually harm someone or to damage property in a way that indicates that an individual poses a danger to the safety of ESU staff, students or other members of the ESU community.

i. The threat may be expressed/communicated behaviorally, orally, visually, in writing, electronically, or through any other means.

ii. A transient threat is an expression of anger or frustration that can be quickly or easily resolved.

iii. A substantive threat is an expression of serious intent to harm others which includes, but is not limited to, any threat which involves a detailed plan and means.

b. A threat assessment is a fact-based process emphasizing an appraisal of observed (or reasonably-observable) behaviors to identify potentially dangerous or violent situations, to assessment them and to manage/address them. Threat assessment is the process of identifying and responding to serious threats in a systematic, data-informed way.

i. The threat assessment process is distinct from student disciplinary procedures. The mere fact that the ESU is conducting a threat assessment does not by itself necessitate suspension, expulsion or emergency exclusion without complying with state law and board policy related governing those actions.

ii. The threat assessment process is distinct from specialized instruction which a student with a disability may receive from the ESU. The ESU will not change a student’s educational placement as that term is used in the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act solely as part of a threat assessment.

2. Obligation to Report threatening Statements or Behaviors.

All staff and students must report any threatening substantive threats to a member of the administration immediately and comply with any other mandatory reporting obligations. Staff and students who are unsure whether a threat is substantive or transient should report the situation. Staff and students must make such report regardless of the nature of the relationship between the individual who initiated the threat or threatening behavior and the person(s) who were threatened or who were the focus of the threatening behavior. Staff and students must also make such reports regardless of where or when the threat was made or the threatening behavior occurred.


3. Threat Assessment Team

The threat assessment team (team) shall consist of the ESU Administrator, the ESU Administrative Team, Members of the Crisis Team, and local law enforcement. Not every team member need participate in every threat assessment. If the threat has been made by or is directed towards, a student with a disability, the threat assessment team must include a staff member who is knowledgeable about special education services or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as appropriate. Neither the student nor their student’s family members are part of the threat assessment team.

The team is responsible for investigating all reported threats to the ESU, its programs, and student and staff safety, evaluating the significance of each threat, and devising an appropriate response. The threat assessment team shall work closely with the crisis team in planning for crisis situations. The threat assessment team shall be familiar with mental health resources available to students, staff and patrons and shall collaborate with local mental health service providers as appropriate.

4. Threat Assessment Investigation and Response

When a threat is reported, an ESU administrator shall initiate an initial inquiry/triage and, in consultation with members of the threat assessment team, make a determination of the seriousness of the threat as expeditiously as possible. The ESU administrator must contact law enforcement if the administrator believes that an individual poses a clear and immediate threat of serious violence.

If there is no reasonably apparent imminent threat present or once such an imminent threat is contained, the threat assessment team will meet to evaluate and respond to the threatening behavior. The team may, but is not required to, review the following types of information:

  • Review of the threatening behavior and/or communication;
  • Interviews with the individuals involved including students, staff members family members as necessary and appropriate;
  • Review of school and other records for any prior history or interventions with the students involved;
  • Any other investigatory methods that the team determines to be reasonable and useful.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the team will determine what, if any, response to the threat is appropriate. The team is authorized to disclose the results of its investigation to law enforcement and to the target(s) of any threatened acts. The team may refer the individual of concern to the appropriate ESU administrator and/or program leader for consequences under the ESU’s student discipline policy or, if appropriate, report the results of its investigation to the student’s individualized education plan team.

Regardless of threat assessment activities, disciplinary action and referral to law enforcement will occur consistent with board policy and Nebraska law.

5. Communication with the Public about Reported Threats

The team will keep members of the ESU community approprately informed about substantive threats and about the team’s response to those threats. This communication may include oral announcements, written communication sent home with students, or communication through print or broadcast media. However, the team will not reveal the identity of the individual of concern or of any target(s) of threatened violence if that individual is a minor.

6. Coordination with the Crisis Team After Resolution of Threat

The threat assessment team will confer with the ESU’s crisis team after a threat has been investigated to provide the crisis team with information that the crisis team may use in assessing or revising the All-Hazard ESU Safety Plan.

Adopted on: April 8, 2019
Revised on: August 10, 2020
Reviewed on: Feb. 13, 2023