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Public emphasizes risk of school board’s threat assessment plan

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – A handful of concerned residents spoke out against the Iowa City Community School District’s plans to add threat assessment teams to secondary schools this fall, at its final board meeting before school starts next week.

The district is waiting to hear back on a $187,500 grant to help install teams to better gauge, predict and respond to threats at all seven of the district’s middle and high schools. Part of their plan includes monitoring student activity on social media.

Parents, students and community members raised their concerns on privacy and criminalization Tuesday night.

“I feel like students get reduced to numbers,” Peter Adams said, who’s going to be a sophomore at West High School next week. “Every individual case is different. I can understand having some specialists come in but why not just hire more counselors.”

Members of the Black Voices Project say the district needs to be more careful with how it conducts social media monitoring.

“When you put information in front of a person who doesn’t have the ‘need to know’, or the right to see that, you’re putting kids at risk,” Marian Coleman said.

School Board Member JP Claussen says the district needs parent’s trust, and it’s imperative they get a procedure on the books soon.

“Right now, we don’t have any threat assessment guidelines,” Claussen said. “This stuff is happening at school and so we do need parents to trust that our schools know what to do.”

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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