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NOVACares Program

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Welcome! NOVACares works with all members of the NOVA Community. Our program makes it easy to request assistance and/or document behavior. There are currently five primary classifications for categorizing incident reports:

  1. Academic Integrity Violation
  2. Concerning Behavior
  3. Disciplinary/Criminal
  4. Sexual Misconduct
  5. For Your Information (FYI)

NOVACares responders are trained to address every report. All incident reports submitted through the NOVACares system are reviewed and assigned to an appropriate responder based on the information in the report. Concerning behavior should be reported right away.

Examples of concerning behavior are:

  • classroom disruption
  • self-destructive behavior
  • negative change in academic performance
  • writing or drawings that convey intentions of self-harm or harm to others
  • significant changes in attitude or personality
  • unusual or bizarre behavior
  • incoherent speech
  • intoxication
  • victimization
  • overly stressed
  • unresolved medical issues
  • violation of academic integrity (ex. plagiarism and cheating)
  • violent or threatening behavior and/or communication

Please click here to make a NOVACares Report.

If a situation requires an immediate emergency response, please contact NOVA Police at 703.764.5000.

Our responders consist of members of the NOVA Community such as academic deans, deans of students, Title IX, CARE team members, Human Resources, NOVA Police, NOVACares case managers and Sexual Assault Services. NOVA is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for every student. If you See Something, Say Something!

We understand that issues arise outside of the classroom that make it difficult for you to be successful in class. NOVACares hopes to facilitate early intervention for these issues so that you can focus on your academic goals and enjoy your time as a student at NOVA. Self-reports can provide you with resources for self-care, mental health counseling, homelessness, obtaining health insurance and more. If you are looking for a mental health provider, please visit nvcc.rints.com to search for a local provider.

NOVA does not provide mental health services (per VCCS policy under Policies Section 6.4), but we do provide faculty, staff and students with appropriate referrals for mental health intervention and services.

The NOVACares Program also offers consultations for faculty and staff. We develop community partnerships and resource lists. We coordinate and schedule professional development workshops on a variety of topics. We are always receptive to requests for additional information. Please take your time to explore the many resources this site has to offer students, family members, faculty and staff. Feel free to contact us for more information at novacares@nvcc.edu.


Learn more about the NOVACares process.
Why is incident reporting important?

Admin Council endorsed the use of the NOVACares Reporting System and database as the college’s official record of concerning behavior and intervention.

  1. The NOVACares database prevents silos of information that may occur within departments and/or campuses. Because an individual may visit or attend multiple campuses, the database will track all incident reports about the individual throughout their time at NOVA.
  2. Most concerning behaviors do not require police involvement. People are sometimes unsure of where and when to report concerns. NOVACares ensures that your report will be dealt with by the most appropriate responder.
  3. NOVACares allows the college to address concerning behavior proactively in the absence of a college counseling center.
  4. People typically tell their peers, friends, parents and/or workmates about concerns. The online form is the next logical step to share concerns that bother them.
  5. The NOVACares database report may identify witnesses that can provide a fuller perspective of the situation and, thus, a more thorough investigation of the incident.
  6. Perpetrators of serious campus violence don’t just “snap.” They have a history of acts and communications that may seem small individually, but collectively, can map out a pattern of escalating behavior.
  7. Incidents may or may not be impulsive or random; reporting may allow identification of the risk potential of an individual.
  8. It is a means of identifying and documenting acts of predatory, targeted violence.
  9. It is a tool for prevention. Most of those who commit acts of violence “plan, prepare, and discuss with others before the attack!”
  10. The system creates a centralized process to oversee college behavioral concerns and patterns of behavior.
  11. The response to a NOVACares database report may help an individual understand early on that their behavior is not OK before it continues or escalates. It allows staff to intervene and make a difference.

It is a great tool for problem-solving and maintaining campus safety!

Legal Information

Virginia Laws

Virginia Code that gives authority to establish and operate campus violence prevention committees and threat assessment teams.

AUTHORITY FOR A TEAM VA Code § 23-9.2:10. B. The board of visitors or other governing body of each public institution of higher education shall determine a committee structure on campus of individuals charged with education and prevention of violence on campus.  Each committee shall include representatives from student affairs, law enforcement, human resources, counseling services, residence life, and other constituencies as needed.  Such committee shall also consult with legal counsel as needed.  D. The board of visitors or other governing body of each public institution of higher education shall establish a specific threat assessment team that shall include members from law enforcement, mental health professionals, representatives of student affairs and human resources, and, if available, college or university counsel. Such team shall implement the assessment, intervention and action policies set forth by the committee.

Virginia Code that allows the team to access criminal history record information and health records for the purpose of threat assessment and case management.

RECORDS ACCESS VA Code § 23-9.2:10. E. Each threat assessment team shall establish relationships or utilize existing relationships with local and state law-enforcement agencies as well as mental health agencies to expedite assessment and intervention with individuals whose behavior may present a threat to safety. Upon a preliminary determination that an individual poses a threat of violence to self or others, or exhibits significantly disruptive behavior or need for assistance, a threat assessment team may obtain criminal history record information, as provided in§§19.2-389 and 19.2-389.1, and health records, as provided in§32.1-127.1:03. No member of a threat assessment team shall re-disclose any criminal history record information or health information obtained pursuant to this section or otherwise use any record of an individual beyond the purpose for which such disclosure was made to the threat assessment team.

This section of Code is specific to dissemination of criminal history records information.

CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD INFORMATION VA Code: §19.2-389. Dissemination of criminal history record information.  A. Criminal history record information shall be disseminated, whether directly or through an intermediary, only to: (25.) Members of a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to §23- 9.2:10, for the purpose of assessing or intervening with an individual whose behavior may present a threat to safety;

This section of Code addresses the dissemination of juvenile records information.

JUVENILE RECORD INFORMATION VA Code: 19.2-389.1. Dissemination of juvenile record information. Record information maintained in the Central Criminal Records Exchange pursuant to the provisions of §16.1-299 shall be disseminated only: (x) to members of a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to § 23- 9.2:10, to aid in the assessment or intervention with individuals whose behavior may present a threat to safety.

Virginia Code that allows health care entities to share information from health records with a threat assessment team when the records have to do with a student at that Virginia college or university.

VIRGINIA HEALTH RECORDS PRIVACY ACT VA Code: § 32.1-127.1:03. Health records privacy. D. Health care entities may, and, when required by other provisions of state law, shall, disclose health records: (35.) To a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to §23-9.2:10 when such records concern a student at the public institution of higher education, including a student who is a minor.

The Virginia Code now also allows threat assessment team records to be excluded from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

TAT RECORDS EXCLUSION FROM FOIA VA Code:§2.2-3705.4. The following records are excluded from the provisions of this chapter but may be disclosed by the custodian in his discretion, except where such disclosure is prohibited by law:  (8.) Records of a threat assessment team established by a public institution of higher education pursuant to§23- 9.2:10 relating to the assessment or intervention with a specific individual.

Threat Assessment Team (TAT) RECORDS EXCLUSION FROM FOIA

However, in the event an individual who has been under assessment commits an act, or is prosecuted for the commission of an act that has caused the death of, or caused serious bodily injury, including any felony sexual assault, to another person, the records of such threat assessment team concerning the individual under assessment shall be made available as provided by this chapter, with the exception of any criminal history records obtained pursuant to§19.2-389 or 19.2-389.1, health records obtained pursuant to§32.1-127.1:03, or scholastic records as defined in§22.1-289. The public body providing such records shall remove information identifying any person who provided information to the threat assessment team under a promise of confidentiality.

REPORTING OF ACTS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE VA Code 23-9.2:15.  Requires each institution of higher education or private nonprofit institution of higher education to establish a review committee for the purposes of reviewing information related to acts of sexual violence that are reported to the Title IX Coordinator or his designee.  The review committee may be the threat assessment team established under 23-9.2:10. The review committee may obtain law enforcement records, criminal history record information, health records, available institutional conduct or personnel records, and known facts and circumstances of the information reported or known to the institution or law enforcement.  The review committee shall conduct its review in compliance with federal privacy law, meet within 72 hours to review the information and shall meet again as necessary as new information becomes available. At the conclusion of the review, the Title IX Coordinator and the law enforcement representative shall each retain authority to proceed with any further investigation or adjudication allowed under state or federal law.

Federal Laws

ADA “DIRECT THREAT”

  • Change in interpretation of ADA Title II, regarding definition of “Direct Threat.”
  • Clarifies “threat to self” not included as exception to accommodations requirement under disability law.
  • Remaining option: exception based upon “direct threat to others.”
  • Can still remove based upon criterion of “not otherwise qualified.”

TITLE IX “DEAR COLLEAGUE” LETTER

  • Responsibilities of Title IX coordinator.
  • Handles sexual assault investigations.
  • Handles sexual harassment allegations.
  • Questions about overlap with threat assessment teams.
  • Recommendation is strong liaison relationship, frequent communications.

HIPAA

  • Protects the confidentiality of information in health/mental health records.
  • Include exceptions where information can be shared in situations where a patient is a threat to themself or others. In such situations where a mental health professional is aware that the patient has threatened harm to themselves or to someone else, the mental health professional has the duty to warn someone or to do something to protect the victim in question.
  • Under HIPAA and state laws, confidentiality is held by the client or patient, NOT the mental health professional. The threat assessment team can always ask the person in question for their permission to access their mental health records and talk with their mental health professional. The team needs to get the person’s permission in writing. 
  • Once records are transferred to the College, HIPAA no longer applies – they are protected under FERPA as educational records.

FERPA

Please click here to learn about FERPA Basics (PDF).

  • Should not be an impediment to effective threat assessment and case management.
  • Governs records only, not observations, communications, etc. TAT members can ask and faculty/staff can share their observations, etc. about a student.
  • Does not govern police records.
  • New guidance from USDOE encourages information sharing where public safety is a concern.

Does not permit a private right of action, meaning that individuals or institutions cannot be held liable for violations of FERPA. There have been no instances to date, where an institution has received monetary sanctions for violating FERPA. It is more likely that an institution would receive some added training from USDOE if it were found to have shared information in violation of FERPA.

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