Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) provides funding for local educational agencies (LEAs) in which the learning environment has been disrupted due to a violent or traumatic incident, to provide resources in response to the event and re-establish a safe environment conducive to learning. The US Department of Education (the Department) has not developed formal regulatory guidance to Project SERV, nor has it established any formal procedures for the program. This document is intended to provide general guidelines regarding how the program operates.
Funds for Project SERV are appropriated under Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities National Programs, to remain available for obligation at the Federal level until expended.
The Department provides emergency, short-term immediate assistance to affected LEAs. At the discretion of the Secretary, funding amounts and project periods may be identified (subject to the availability of appropriations) to reflect the scope of the incident and potential recovery needs.
For a LEA to qualify for funding, the organization needs to be able to demonstrate that the learning environment has been disrupted as the result of a significant, traumatic event. Any traumatic or violent event, that disrupted teaching and learning, is eligible for services under Project SERV if the LEA is able to: (1) demonstrate the traumatic effect on the learning environment including how the event has disrupted teaching and learning; and (2) demonstrate that the needed services cannot be adequately provided with existing resources in a comprehensive and timely manner, and that the provision of services and assistance will result in an undue financial hardship on the LEA.
Applications are accepted continuously and vary in project length. Typically grants are awarded for 6-24 months. The specifics of each Project SERV grant will be negotiated between the applicant and Federal Program Officer and depend on the scope of the disaster and specific needs of the LEA.
Project SERV grants are considered “Immediate Services” grants and are intended to provide short-term support soon after a traumatic event. Immediate Services grants are intended to provide a limited amount of funds to meet acute needs and restore the learning environment. The application process is intended to be completed quickly, but flexible to the applicants’ needs. The DRU will assist the applicant through the process. Please contact Molly Budman at Molly.Budman@ed.gov to get started.
If it is determined that the LEA is eligible for a project SERV grant and the program is applicable to its disaster-related needs, the Federal Program Officer (FPO) will request a draft application: for review.
Applications should include a narrative which includes the following sections:
- Description of the school district
- Description of the incident
- Description of the impact the incident has had on the learning environment.
- Any data which reflects this impact such as increased absences, increased visits to the school counselor etc.
- Roles and responsibilities of personnel offering services, where applicable
- Proposed end date of award
- Prospective Expenses
Grantees are required to document project activities and outcomes of their Project SERV grant and to submit a final report documenting the effectiveness of the programs and activities funded under this grant. SERV FPOs will work with grantees throughout the monitoring process to prepare them to the final report.
Allowable Uses of Funds
In general, Project SERV funds may be used for costs that are reasonable and necessary to restoring the learning environment. This may include, for instance, activities that help an impacted manage the practical problem caused by a traumatic event, help the LEA and schools provide a sense of safety and security, or help those individuals directly affected by the event to recover.
The following are types of services allowable under Project SERV:
- Targeted mental health assessments, referrals, and services related to the traumatic event with the goal of restoring victims/survivors to their pre-incident levels of functioning;
- Overtime for teachers, counselors, law enforcement and security officers, and other staff;
- Substitute teachers and other staff as necessary;
- Emergency transportation;
- Technical assistance on developing an appropriate response to the crisis;
- Transportation and other costs to operate school at an alternative site, e.g., leasing of space to substitute for damaged buildings;
- Temporary security measures, such as non-permanent metal detectors and additional security guards and security cameras.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and LEAs may add other services that are reasonable and necessary to restoring the learning environment, provided they comply with applicable Federal Regulations, such as the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 75-79, 81-86, and 97-99) and the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR Part 200 et seq.) and are not on the Unallowable Activities list.
The following types of services and activities are not supported by Project SERV:
- Claims recoverable under insurance coverage, including Medicaid reimbursements for related services to school staff;
- Payments of fines assessed upon the LEA, employees, and/or members of employees’ or students’ families;
- Payment of settlements assessed against the LEA, employees, and/or members of employees’ or students’ families in civil court actions;
- Payment of legal fees or loss of wages due to court appearances incurred by the LEA, employees, and/or members of employees’ or students’ families;
- Costs for hospitalization, treatment of physical injuries, rehabilitation, or prescriptions;
- Payment for public relations consultants or activities;
- Services of existing county/public/private nonprofit mental health agency staff whose role is to respond to emergency mental health needs of children;
- Services normally provided by the LEA;
- Any activity for which other resources are available, e.g., insurance;
- Mental health services for persons other than teachers, students, faculty, or members of the immediate family of a student, faculty member, or teacher;
- Emergency management planning