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Safe & Drug Free Schools Overview

The purpose of Title IV - Safe & Drug Free Schools and Communities is to support programs that:

  1. prevent violence, bullying and harassment in and around schools;
  2. prevent the illegal use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs;
  3. involve parents and communities; and,
  4. are coordinated with related efforts and resources to foster a safe and drug free learning environment that promotes student achievement.

Federal funding for state grants through the Title IV – Safe & Drug Free Schools and Communities was cut from President Obama’s budget effective the 2010-2011 school year.  The Department of Public Instruction budget to support this program was also cut, however has been absorbed into other staff positions.  As a result of the elimination of state grants, ND DPI has no obligation to monitor local districts for compliance with Title IV.  The Safe School section of the annual consolidated application needs only to be completed as an option to supplement school improvement goals, district strategic planning efforts or by choice to assess the risk behaviors within the district or building.

However, reporting requirements are still in effect; each school building must report annually suspensions, expulsions and truancies no later than June 15th.   This information is used to determine the presence of “persistently dangerous schools” as required by federal law.  Additionally, the Department staff is responsible to provide technical assistance, professional development and resources regarding alcohol, drugs, tobacco, violence/bullying, guns, weapons, school climate and crisis management planning. 

Our goal is to unify and support the prevention efforts between schools, parents and the community. The unit works diligently to provide current and accurate information, resources, curriculum and technical assistance to every school district. Likewise, the School Health unit is contacted to assist with sensitive situations and issues; any school is only an incident away from a tragic event which could impact and change the lives of students and a community forever.  It is our responsibility and right to support a strong state and local level Safe & Drug Free Schools and Community program.

Effective research-based prevention  and intervention programs use the Principles of Effectiveness:

  1. Assessment and analysis of current data to determine problem areas and risk factors
  2. Provide protective factors and positive assets
  3. Use established set of performance measures for identified goals and objectives
  4. Use scientific research-based curriculum and programs
  5. Parental involvement and school / community collaboration
  6. Plan for overall evaluation of program

Exemplary practices integrate the concept and practices of Safe & Drug Free Schools into each district include the following:

  • Implementation of research based prevention curriculums and programs for elementary, middle and high school in the areas of violence/bullying, alcohol, tobacco and drugs prove effective to reduce risk behaviors. In addition, alignment of curriculum with health standards, and integration of health into the science, language arts, and other core curriculum topics has demonstrated effective and positive multiple messaging techniques.  States which require health education in each year for grades 9-12 had less prevalence of risk behavior than those who did not.
  • Implementation of zero-tolerance policy and practice to address behavior and management of school buildings environment / climate (bus, restrooms, playground, hallways, lunch, parking lot).  Policies regarding alcohol, drugs, violence, weapons, tobacco are regularly communicated and reinforced to parents, students, staff and community throughout the school year.
  • Formation of parent, staff and community specific programs to inform and educate, enhance networking and build relationships.
  • Current and comprehensive crisis management plans and drills are practiced in collaboration with community officials, emergency and evacuation procedures are in place - an emergency suitcase and easily accessible student database ensure that all students are accounted for and safe.
  • At risk students are identified regularly and staff/student and community mentors established to ensure student academic, social and personal supports are in place.
  • District create a media plan to report programs and progress on indicators to public by way of school newsletters/website, flyers, letter to parents, community forums, community newspapers.
  • Professional development opportunities are on-going and frequent for staff, parents and community to inform and address social issues relevant to the issues of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, as well as risk behaviors.
  • SDFSC  principles are woven into district’s school improvement plan via inclusive health programs and initiatives which demonstrate the balance of health and academics.
  • After school activities/programs are available for students and environments are created for positive group interaction through school activities and associations.
  • Administration and teachers have diligently prioritized a positive school climate and environment using appropriate strategies and programs.
  • Districts participate in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and local surveys which provide data to identify risk behaviors and target prevention and intervention programs and activities.

Data Reports

Suspension /Expulsion/Truancy Reports
The US Department of Education requires North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to annually report data on truancy rates, the frequency, seriousness, and incidence of violence and drug-related offenses resulting in suspensions and expulsions in all elementary, middle and secondary schools in the state. The information shall be reported to the State on a school-by-school basis. All public, non-public and BIA schools receiving Federal Title funds are required to file this report. This information is available via county, region and state.

Unsafe School Choice Option - Persistently Dangerous School Criteria

The Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO), (section 9532 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires that each state receiving funds under the ESEA, establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that students attending a persistently dangerous public school, or students who become victims of a violent criminal offense while in or on the grounds of a public school that they attend, be allowed to attend a safe public school. For the purposes of USCO any facility owned, leased or contracted for, and utilized for the provision of routine regular kindergarten, elementary, or secondary education or school-sponsored events is considered school property.

In the context of NCLB, a public school in North Dakota is persistently dangerous if these conditions exist for two consecutive school years:

  • A state firearms violation as defined in NDCC 15.1-19-10 that resulted in a one-year expulsion.
  • A school has expelled 1% of the student population or 5 students (whichever is higher) for violent criminal offenses as described in the North Dakota Criminal Code and designated as applying to this rule as listed below.
  • Prior to designating a school as persistently dangerous, DPI will take into consideration:
    • the school’s safety plan
    • local efforts to address the school’s safety concerns
    • other information deemed relevant by the Department of Public Instruction.

Students who have been victims of a violent criminal offense

LEA’s must provide safe school options to a student who has been a victim of a violent criminal offense while in or on the grounds of a public school that the student attends. When there is probable cause that a student has been a victim of a violent criminal offense, the LEA must report the incident to DPI on the suspension/expulsion report, and within five days, offer the student an opportunity to transfer to a safe public school within the LEA. Request for transfer must be documented and describe specific incidents that lead to the request. When another school is not available in the LEA, the LEA shall seek other options such as an agreement with a contiguous LEA to accept the student(s).


The Department of Public Instruction School Health staff can help your district, buildings or teachers with the following issues as we work collaboratively and collectively to keep our students and schools safe and healthy.

Bullying / harassment
School Climate & School Culture
General Student health issues

Crisis Management

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North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent
600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 201
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440

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