Holmen School District uses safety protocols to protect students as threats increase

HOLMEN, Wis. (WKBT) — When you hear of a school threat, what do you do?

“Report that, report that to trusted adults, report that to our school administrators,” advises Matt Meyers, safety and student services director in the Holmen School District.

The Wisconsin Threat Assessment protocol offers a guide that Holmen and other school districts use.

“From the initial getting a threat, working through some stages of determining credibility and risk levels of that threat and following up with intervention and response and recovery procedures,” Meyers said.

“We hate that we have to learn from those tragic situations, but we do,” said Jill Mason, student services executive director.

There are many reasons why a student may resort to threats, including a lack of mental health care.

“We’re seeing some students choose social media as a place to express their frustration,” Mason said. “Maybe share a threat because they’re not sure how to cope with the situations their having.”

And there are warning signs.

“If you’re noticing that they’re withdrawing, or that they’re showing different types of behaviors in the past make sure you reach out,” Mason said.

The Holmen district offers Sergio, an anonymous reporting system where students can go online and report a threat or concern.

“I think we’re certainly seeing students coming to us with a variety of social and emotional learning needs and that’s a key part we want to address,” Meyers said.

Counselors and teachers at Holmen work to reduce stigma surrounding mental health.

“Student services has really done a great job of normalizing that discussion,” Mason said.

Getting to know students personally is an essential element.

“We have phenomenal staff and who build relationships students and get to know our students on an individual level and that’s really key,” Meyers said.

The Holmen district uses the Threat Assessment Protocol and partnership with local authorities to evaluate threats, but the ultimate goal is preventing them from occurring. District officials hope the mental health resources like Sprigio will encourage students to seek help instead of using social media.

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