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Newtown, Conn., Awarded $1.3 Million in Violence-Recovery Grant

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The latest grantee of a federal program that gives districts money to help them heal from violent incidents is Newtown, Conn.—where 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students and six of the school's teachers and staff members were killed in December.

Newtown will receive $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education's Project SERV program—School Emergency Response to Violence. The money is intended to pay for anything that helps schools where a violent incident has occurred recover from the incident.

"This tragedy has forever changed the entire Newtown community—and our country," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a press release. "While we continue efforts to enact President Obama's comprehensive approach to make our schools and communities safer, we want to do whatever we can to support ongoing recovery efforts and ensure this community has the resources it needs to meet the needs of its teachers, students and families."

Duncan will be in Connecticut on Friday, joining Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, at a Hartford magnet school, where the two will host a town hall meeting to discuss the importance of comprehensive school safety efforts.

Project SERV grants, awarded to school districts, colleges, and universities, are typically much smaller in size. The award for the 5,500-student Newtown district is among the largest, however. Some of the program's largest awards include grants given to the Texas Education Agency and the Mississippi Department of Education, each awarded $1.75 million in 2006.

The awards, for which recipients must apply, often are provided to districts or places where there has been a school shooting. For example, the Baltimore County school district in Maryland received about $35,000 earlier this year. Near the start of the 2012-13 school year, a student who brought a gun to school shot and injured a classmate in a high school cafeteria. Another recipient was the Chardon school district in Ohio, where in early 2012, a high school student shot and killed three other district students. He was recently sentenced to three life sentences in prison.

In all, the program has awarded $33.5 million to 106 grantees, since its creation in 2001. The Education Department said it is working with education leaders in Oklahoma on providing grants through Project SERV after a tornado shredded several schools in the 23,000-student Moore district this week, killing seven elementary school students.

In Newtown, the federal Education Department said, the money will be used to offset costs the district experienced immediately after the shootings and school-based behavioral and academic recovery programs, including support groups for parents, siblings, students and teachers; creative expression and wellness activities; counseling; training for educators and school personnel; and additional support staff.

Follow Rules for Engagement on Twitter @Rulz4Engagement and Education Week Staff Writer Nirvi Shah on Twitter @NirviShah.

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