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Iowa City school board steps back on threat assessment proposal

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – Board members for the Iowa City Community School District told concerned community members Tuesday night they will not push forward on the district’s proposal for threat assessment teams until the district does more community outreach.

“It was a turning point,” Johnson County Supervisor Royceann Porter, who has been speaking on the issue for months, said Tuesday night.

People like Porter said they didn’t have a clear enough idea of what the proposed teams to curb school violence would look like. Board members agreed they haven’t provided enough information up to this point.

“The intent was, ‘We’ve got to get ahead of this,'” School Board member JP Claussen said. “But, the impact has been delay, consternation, confusion.”

Police involvement in these teams has been debated since the spring. Community comment at these meetings continues to overflow with people asking the district not to install school resource officers (full-time officers that report to schools instead of the department) at each secondary school.

Each board member affirmed their stance firmly against adding SROs on Tuesday.

“To hear everybody say they do not want SROs in the schools, it was awesome,” Porter said.

Referencing recent events, like a loaded handgun on the Tate High School campus last week, board members stressed that they do still need to install some sort of comprehensive, evidence-based plan.

“That’s what I’m supporting; someone at the district level who can have the time, energy and exclusive focus to drive this conversation forward,” School board member Janet Godwin said.

Board members agreed with community members that some of their past methods of asking for input have been ineffective. The board said it will try new ones before moving forward.

Iowa City Police officers, with advice from University of Iowa safety officials, recently proposed a model for these threat assessment teams. The model included one full-time officer to serve as an expert and connector with other law enforcers in Johnson County.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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