As we know, on April 3, 2023 Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 543 into law, further bolstering safety and security in Florida’s K-12 schools. As part of HB 543, the legislature required the Department’s Office of Safe Schools (OSS) to create a Florida-specific uniform threat management process to aid public schools in identifying, assessing, managing, and monitoring potential and real threats. Tasked with this responsibility and with the goal of creating a robust process to manage threats that is practical, streamlined, and effective, OSS collaborated with teachers, administrators, mental health experts, and law enforcement officers throughout the state. As a result, a new Florida Threat Management Model is coming to Florida school districts January 1st, 2024.
Understanding Florida House Bill 543
This model has many unique features that are aimed at increasing fidelity in the application of the model and providing oversight and accountability. Some of these features include:
- The requirement that a district threat management coordinator be named to provide accountability and oversight of the process throughout the district as well as a chair and vice chair for each campus team.
- An outline of the makeup of the threat management team and how to document which team member was a part of each decision point.
- Specific training requirements for teams and staff, including yearly team training; advanced training for chairs and vice chairs; quarterly team training, and general staff training.
- Multiple avenues through which information affecting school safety can be easily conveyed and received.
- Specific timelines that must be followed and documented when a threat is received.
- The requirement that teams must meet at least monthly to review cases and Student Support Management Plans (must be documented).
- Required documentation for all meetings and trainings.
The Challenges Florida Schools Will Face
Rightfully so, there is certainly some anxiety and concern around transitioning from one model to another, especially given the level of detail and specificity in this new model.
There are many challenges that this new Threat Management model presents. First, the strict and defined timeline for assessing threats means that districts and campus teams need to be able to work collaboratively and quickly to assign tasks and complete specific steps to meet these timelines. This can be challenging in the midst of a busy school day. Second, the model includes complex workflows in which the various types and seriousness of threats dictate a number of different workflows that need to be followed. However, each and every workflow does require review and approval from the campus principal and district threat coordinator. Third, there is an abundance of documentation required and accountability built into the model. Teams will need to be meticulous about notetaking, documenting who was present and participated in which decisions, and how all this is stored for later review.
A Path to Safer Schools
Despite these challenges, we should keep in mind that once over this initial hurdle of implementing Florida House Bill 543’s new model in our districts and schools, there is great potential to ensure the safety of our children while at school, disrupt the pathway to violence, and support our students in need.
For one, having a defined model that all districts and campuses across the state are using will provide the benefit of uniformity. This will mean that as new students enter or leave a particular district, if they have a threat management incident, the new school will have familiarity in exactly what process was followed. This should give some degree of confidence in the documentation received that can be used to continue to support a student. Additionally, this uniformity also has the potential to result in an unprecedented degree of fidelity across the entire state in the processes used to assess and manage threats.
At the end of the day, a model built on this level of detail, accountability, documentation, and ongoing support for students has the ultimate potential of reducing harm to self and others and providing the best support for our students to ensure they are successful in school.
Navigate360, Your Partner in School Safety & Student Well-Being
Again, we know the initial transition will likely bring about many challenges, but the potential long-term impacts on the safety of our schools and the wellness of our students is far greater. At Navigate360, we want to be your trusted partner in this transition and into the future as we hopefully see the potential impacts come to fruition. Our Case Management system has been updated to include all the components of the new Florida model and allows for the following to be achieved easily:
- Designation of chair and vice chair roles
- Timeline triggers built in
- Interview template customization
- User tagging to track which team members participate in which key decision points
- Guest teams/members
- Team meeting logs that track which cases were discussed and updated
- Automated case transfer between buildings as students move locations
- Robust data gathering and monitoring plan tools
Finally, our Program Development & Operation service is aimed at building and supporting the foundational structures and processes that allow your threat management program to be implemented with a high degree of fidelity and sustainability. We start with an evidence-based program assessment, from which we craft a specific implementation plan for your district. Using this plan, we can craft policy, procedures, and various implementation supports for your campus teams. We also serve as an advisor and subject matter expert on potential programmatic changes as well as complex cases. We utilize data and evidence throughout our implementation to ensure we are evaluating the program constantly, and more importantly, within your specific district context.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to learn how we can support you on this journey.
Navigate360 Threat Detection & Prevention Solutions
Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your school community is a top priority for all school leaders. In an ever-changing environment with continually emerging threats and hazards, however, simply responding after a critical incident takes place isn’t enough.
Navigate360’s threat detection and prevention solutions help you proactively address concerning student behaviors while providing crucial support to those in crisis. Download the complete guide now to learn more about how these solutions work better together to support student wellness and success on your campus.