Bill creating school threat assessment teams bill becomes law

The state seal in front of the General Assembly is shown.

RALEIGH — A bill creating school threat assessment teams was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on July 7.  

The primary sponsors of House Bill 605 were the House K-12 Education Committee Co-chairs; Reps. John Torbett (R-Gaston), Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) and Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke). 

The new school threat assessment teams law will require threat assessment teams to be formed in public school units. Public schools will also now be required to participate in school safety exercises and programs and local school boards will need to establish peer-to-peer support programs.  

Prior to being signed into law, the bill had received support from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Center for Safer Schools (CFSS), which under the new law is tasked with developing guidance for threat assessment teams for public schools.  

CFSS Executive Director Karen W. Fairley said in a statement that both she and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt have advocated for threat assessment legislation since coming into office in 2021. 

“Students trust their peers. Other than their parents, no one knows them better,” Fairley said of the peer-to-peer support program in the bill. “It’s crucial to a child’s mental health for them to be able to confide in and receive assistance from someone they can relate to.”

“Nothing is better than having fully-formed threat assessment teams in our schools,” Truitt said. “A fully-functioning threat assessment team is a critical component of keeping schools safer and preventing violence.” 

House Bill 605 saw overwhelming support in both chambers of the General Assembly.  

The bill passed its first reading in the House by a vote of 106-7 and the Senate unanimously passed a preferred committee substitute bill on June 21. The House concurrence vote came in at 115-4 on June 27. The four House members voting against the measure were all Democrats; Reps. John Autry (Mecklenburg), Amber Baker (Forsyth), Maria Cervania (Wake), and Julie von Haefen (Wake). 

About A.P. Dillon 1293 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_