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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

National Institute Of Justice Awards Nearly $2 Million To Baltimore County Public Schools To Support School Safety Research



Baltimore – The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) today announced it has awarded the Baltimore County Public Schools and its research partner, the University of Maryland at Baltimore, $1,965,158 to study school safety by focusing on students with emotional and behavioral health issues. NIJ received more than 100 applications from school districts and their research partners around the country, and made 15 awards to the highest scoring, most relevant and rigorous studies.

Schools across the country are struggling with how to formulate comprehensive and effective programs to address the mental health needs of students and thereby help preserve school safety. The study in Baltimore, known as “Promoting School Safety: A Comprehensive Emotional and Behavioral Health Model,” will employ a randomized controlled study design involving 44 schools to evaluate the impact of a new comprehensive emotional and behavioral health crisis response and prevention (EBH-CRP) intervention on school safety. This project will build on existing school and community resources to implement a streamlined emotional and behavioral health crisis response and prevention protocol and comprehensive continuum of services, including universal prevention, early identification, assessment and service linkage, crisis response and post-crisis relapse prevention. The research conducted by the University of Maryland at Baltimore will generate evidence about the effectiveness of a large-scale, multifaceted, mental-health-focused intervention.

Nationally, NIJ awarded nearly $63 million to school districts and research organizations through the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) to fund 24 research projects under two different solicitations. The first, “Investigator-Initiated Research,” includes nine awards to research organizations totaling more than $18 million. The Baltimore County Schools was awarded money under the second solicitation, “Developing Knowledge about What Works to Make Schools Safe,” under which NIJ provided more than $45 million to 15 school districts and their research partners. CSSI is a large-scale, multi-agency research effort to build knowledge about effective approaches to increasing school safety nationwide.

“We know a great deal about how to make schools safe in general but very little about the specifics for various settings and populations,” said Dr. William J. Sabol, Acting Director of NIJ. “With this $63 million investment, the nation will gain an understanding of school safety that is scientifically sound, practical, and that can be easily interpreted and used by schools.”

President Obama’s January 2013 plan to end gun violence emphasized keeping guns out of potentially dangerous hands and recognized that additional actions are needed to make our schools safer. CSSI was launched in early 2014 in response to a Congressional request for a broad, research-based effort to increase safety in the nation’s schools.

The initiative has three primary goals: to collect national-level data; to convene stakeholders to identify and share best practices; and to conduct innovative research and evaluate pilot projects in school districts. The programs and policies within CSSI are designed to produce evidence about what works in such areas of school safety as effectiveness of school resource officers and mental health professionals, violence and bullying reduction, and effectiveness of such restorative justice interventions as youth courts. The initiative will also examine potential unintended consequences of school safety efforts, including the excessive use of exclusionary discipline and arrests of students.

Although NIJ has primary responsibility for CSSI, the program is a collaborative effort among more than 20 federal partners, including the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and the Treasury. This partnership will allow the federal government to make a significant impact on school safety by investing limited funds in research that has practical applications for every school in the nation. By determining what interventions work best for specific schools and students, CSSI will provide professionals with a body of knowledge to help them make decisions about which programs will be most effective — and most cost effective — for their particular schools and their challenges.

A list of the awards and more information about CSSI are available at www.nij.gov, keywords: “School Safety.”

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Updated January 26, 2015