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Newtown Public Schools awarded $6.4 million for trauma recovery

It has been 20 months since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 26 dead and a nation in shock. Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Newtown, Connecticut school district will receive $3.1 million, in addition to earlier grants totaling $3.2, under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program. The funds will be used to pay for additional trauma education and grief counseling services and individual therapy for students, their families, staff and community members.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol calling for gun reform legislation and marking the 9 month anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

A needs assessment conducted by the district determined there still exists a sense in the community that the school in unsafe, and there continues to be a prevalence of posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief in Newtown. The level of distress in the community is affecting student performance. The assessment reveals there is a need for additional services to restore a productive learning environment. The district was awarded $1.3 million for the 2012-2013 school year and $1.9 million for the 2013-2014 school year.

“The Department of Education has stepped up once again to ensure that the families and students who continue to feel the effects of the horrific shooting in Newtown get the help they need to cope with their unspeakable grief.” —United States Sen. Chris Murphy (CT-D)

Project SERV is administered by the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Since 2001, the program has awarded more than $42 million in grants to 121 recipients. SERV was created to fund services to school districts and colleges that have suffered disruptions to the learning environment from traumatic and violent events.

The December 14, 2012 shooting in Newtown invigorated the national conversation on gun violence and renewed efforts by gun control advocates. President Obama tasked Vice President Joe Biden with heading a commission to find possible solutions to the increased incidents of mass shootings in the nation. Biden presented his report in Jan. 2013. While legislation to increase controls on firearm ownership failed to pass in the U.S. Congress, several states did enact stricter gun control laws in response to the Sandy Hook killings.