The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has awarded Knox County Schools in Knoxville, Tennessee, almost $50,000 to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following a school shooting in early February that left the principal and assistant principal seriously wounded. Project SERV grants provide funding to school districts and institutions of higher learning that have experienced a traumatic event and need resources to respond to the event and re-establish a safe learning environment. This fiscal year, the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has awarded more than $1.1 million to 11 grantees, including the most recent grant to Knox County Schools.
"Project SERV is an unusual federal program in that it provides resources in a timely manner to help schools and universities as they seek to recover from events that disrupt the lives of students and their learning environments," Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, says.
Knox County Schools is a large school district encompassing rural, suburban and urban communities. The district is comprised of 56,000 students and 87 school sites, including Inskip Elementary School, where the shooting took place. On Feb. 10, following an early dismissal due to inclement weather, the principal and assistant principal at Inskip were shot by a fourth-grade teacher. The shooting occurred after the teacher learned that his contract would not be renewed.
Counseling and support services were offered to the school community in the immediate days following the shooting. However, staff anxiety levels have been elevated. To help address the continuing needs of students and staff at Inskip Elementary School, Knox County Schools has been awarded a Project SERV Immediate Services grant to help restore the learning environment. Services provided by the grant will include:
- Hiring a school security officer for the remainder of the school year
- Hiring a professional counselor
- Contracting with a mental health provider to provide additional counseling for students, parents and eligible faculty, and
- Contracting with a retired principal to serve as a "principal coach" for the interim principal.
Since FY 2001, the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has awarded more than $27.4 million in Project SERV funding. To view a list of grantees and award amounts, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvppserv/index.html.