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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 15, 1998
                             Project SERV: 
                 School Emergency Response to Violence

President Clinton will propose a $12 million School Emergency Response to Violence -- or Project SERV -- to help schools and local communities respond to school-related violent deaths, such as those that occurred last year in Jonesboro, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; Pearl, Mississippi; and Springfield, Oregon. Developed with input from local officials and educators in these and other communities, Project SERV will enable the federal government to assist local communities in much the same way FEMA assists in response to natural disasters.

Project SERV: Helping Communities Respond to School Shootings. To help communities respond to rare but tragic school-related violent incidents, Project SERV will provide communities with resources to respond to immediate crisis need; to provide increased security and ongoing counseling; and to help state and local officials plan for, prevent against and respond to similar tragedies. The mission of Project SERV will be to:

Provide Immediate Assistance for Emergency Response. As soon as a school-related violent or traumatic incident occurs, the federal government will be able to provide the affected community with immediate assistance, through:

       A $12 million Emergency Response Fund to help communities meet
       urgent and unplanned needs, such as additional security
       personnel, emergency mental health crisis counseling, and
       longer-term counseling to students, faculty, and families.

       Crisis Response Experts trained by the Departments of Education,
       Justice, Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency
       Management Administration, who can help local officials identify
       and respond to community needs, help in developing a plan to
       address those needs, and assist in locating necessary financial
       and human resources.

Establish Coordinated Federal Response to School Crises. Officials from the Departments of Education, Justice, HHS and from FEMA worked together to help communities affected by this year's shootings. These agencies will continue to work together as part of Project SERV, and improve ongoing federal crisis response efforts.

Strengthen the Ability of States and Communities to Respond to School Crises. Project SERV will work to strengthen the ability of each state's emergency management, education, community mental health and law enforcement agencies to prevent and respond to school crises.

Support Research and Evaluation. To help communities deal with future school-related crises, Project SERV will support research and evaluation on effective ways to prevent and respond to the consequences of school-related homicides and other such incidents.

Building An Effective Partnership with Local Communities and States. In the aftermath of the school shootings, the Departments of Education, Justice and HHS worked closely with officials from Pearl, Paducah, Jonesboro, and Springfield by providing crisis response teams, victim assistance, and funds for added security and immediate counseling for students, teachers and families. Following up on these tragic events, White House and agency officials reviewed these efforts and in September met with officials and educators from each community. As a result, we learned that communities could benefit from longer term, coordinated and comprehensive federal assistance. The President's plan is a direct response to these lessons and will be refined through continued consultation with these and other communities.