||SIGMA Threat Management Associates, former Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education
Mr. Modzeleski has spent over 40 years in public service, at the local and Federal levels. During his public service he focused on a variety of issues dealing with the safety and wellbeing of students and schools. For the past two decades Mr. Modzeleski has held several senior level positions at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). While at ED he has been instrumental in designing and implementing programs, policies, trainings and the delivery of technical assistance in four broad areas: school safety, including alcohol, drug, and violence prevention; school health, mental health, and environmental health; school preparedness activities, including planning and preparing for variety of crises and emergencies that may occur in schools and colleges/universities; and terrorism-related activities including issues related to domestic radicalization of youth. Mr. Modzeleski has also been involved in the design and development of several research studies and data collection efforts related to school safety, terrorism and domestic radicalization.
Domestic Radicalization/Terrorism Related Activities:
Mr. Modzeleski headed the Department of Education’s efforts (following Beslan) to deal with the potential for a terrorist attack on a school or Institution of Higher Education, and for collaborating with host of Federal agencies on dealing with threat of domestic radicalization of youth. In this capacity he:
- Sponsored and directed for four reports prepared for ED by the Homeland Security Institute.
- Ahmed to Zachary: Islamist Terrorism Cases Involving School Aged Youth in America
- How Youth are Radicalized
- Emergency Management and Incident Response, Planning in International Schools
- International Terrorist Incidents Involving Education Targets 1990-2006
- Served as Department of Education representative on National Security Staff, Interagency Policy Committee, dealing with Domestic Radicalization.
- Organized and sponsored, along with the National Counter Terrorism Center and HHS (Office of Refugee Resettlement) the first listening session of communities with high concentrations of Somali students.
- In partnership with the US Secret Service developed a threat assessment protocol for schools. Delivered training to school districts and communities in U.S., Canada, and Germany.
As a consultant to the Department of Education, Mr. Modzeleski has continued to provide guidance on the issue of countering domestic violent extremism. In this capacity Mr. Modzeleski maintains close relationships with diverse group of agencies including the FBI, National Counter Terrorism Center, and the National Security Staff.
Mr Modzeleski also serves as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow for the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute. In this capacity Mr. Modzeleski serves as a subject matter expert in areas related to prevention of crime, violence and violent extremism.
School Preparedness Activities:
While at the Department of Education Mr. Modzeleski, formed and managed the Center for School Preparedness (the Center). The Center had responsibility for ensuring schools (K-12 and universities) were prepared to respond to and recover from a wide range of events that could disrupt teaching and learning. In his role as manager for the Center Mr. Modzeleski engaged in the following activities:
- He oversaw the development of a publicationPractical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities (2003)which has been used by schools throughout the county to assist them in the development of their emergency management plans.
- Developed a funding mechanism to assist schools improve their Emergency Management Plans. The mechanism –the Readiness Emergency Management Program—has provided over $100 million of funds for schools in 48 of the 50 States so they could improve their emergency management plans.
- Designed program (Emergency Management for Higher Education) to assist IHEs improve their emergency management plans.
- Developed a program (Project SERV) which provided funds to schools and Institutions of Higher Education that enabled them to recover after traumatic event disrupted teaching and learning. Funds from this program enabled schools and IHEs to quickly recover from events such as school shootings, bombings, suicides, bus accidents and natural disasters.
- Designed and implemented a technical assistant strategy which ensured that every school in the country that wanted assistance in the development and/or implementation of their emergency management plan received the help they needed, through an elaborate system of training modules and system that linked schools together so they could help each other solve mutual problems.
- Responded and provided assistance to schools and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) that experienced incident that disrupted teaching and learning. Among the districts/ IHEs that I personally provided assistance to were: Columbine HS and Red Lake H.S.(after shootings); districts in Gulf Region that were impacted by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina; districts in NY, NJ, CT, VA and MD that were impacted by events of 9/11; Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University (after shootings) and Joplin, MO after tornado.
Mr. Modzeleski developed numerous programs and policies, engaged in research efforts and forged linkages with a host of Federal, state, and local agencies to help ensure schools and IHEs remained safe. Activities engaged in by Mr. Modzeleski include:
- Co-authored with colleague from Case Western University article entitled, “School Shootings: What we know and what we can do.” The article was printed in Current Psychiatry Reports in January 2013.
- Co-authored with colleagues from CDC and Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, article related to the closing of schools during an epidemic. The article –ILI Related School Dismissal Monitoring System: An Overview and Assessment—was published in the American Medical Association’s, Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Journal, Vol 6 / Number 2, 2012.
- Collaborated and co-authored with the US Secret Service a study of targeted school shooters. Findings from the study,The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative,and a follow up study and guide related to threat assessment [Threat Assessment in Schools: A guide to managing threatening situations and to creating safe school climates]are being used by schools and colleges/universities throughout the United States to help create safe learning environments
- Co-authored with staff from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control [CDC] two studies on homicides in schools. The studies [School Associated Violent Deaths in the United States] were published in the Journal of American Medical Association [June 1996 and December 2001]. This study provided first indication of degree of homicides that occur in schools.
- Co-authored with staff from the US Secret Service and the FBI a study on Targeted Shootings at Institutions of Higher Education. Phase I of the study was completed in 2010; Phase II is currently on-going with the FBI. It is expected to be completed in 2012.
- Co-authored a study on the source of firearms used in school associated violent deaths.
- Co-authored a study with US Secret Service and Dr. William Pollack of Harvard on bystanders.The Bystander Studyreleased in May 2008, describes why some youth who know about a school shooting do not come forward with that information while others do not.
- In partnership with the Department of Justice designed the first report on School Safety (1999). Report was later incorporated intoIndicators of School Crime, a report which is still produced annually by ED and the Department of Justice.
- Developed an alliance of School Safety Executives. The alliance brought the school security heads from the 40 largest school districts together for close to two decades to share information on mutual problems and solutions to those problems. The group serves as sounding board for insight into what is happening in our nation’s schools.
Health and Mental Health:
Mr. Modzeleski led ED’s efforts to improve the health and mental health services provided to students. His accomplishments included:
- Led ED’s efforts to deal with H1N1 epidemic (2009/2010). Efforts included developing in collaboration with CDC a mechanism to track school closings. Also, worked closely with senior officials at CDC on the development of policies regarding school closings.
- Developed, with key officials from Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, a unique program that for the first time afforded the opportunity for school districts to receive funding from ED, HHS, and Justice from a single source. The programSafe Schools/ Healthy Studentsfocused heavily on ensuring that schools provided students with mental health services.
- In collaboration with the Department of HHS, after BP oil spill, identified key need of school officials to deal with spill and assisted in the design of a training program to meet that need.
- Provided assistance to Virginia Tech following shooting in 2007. Key part of assistance focused on improvement of their mental health delivery system.
Mr. Modzeleski received numerous awards including: The Director’s Award 1983 [Department of Justice, Office of Programs, Research and Statistics]; the rank award of Meritorious Executive in 2001; the Presidential Award from the National Association of School Psychologists in 2001; and the U.S. Secret Service Director’s Recognition Award in 2002.
Mr. Modzeleski graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a BA in Political Science in 1967. He received a Master in Public Policy from CW Post College in 1972. In 2008, Mr. Modzeleski was selected as a Distinguished Alumni (University of Bridgeport)
Mr. Modzeleski served in the U.S. Army from 1967 -1970; he was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant. He earned a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service for his service in Vietnam.
Mr. Modzeleski served as Visiting Professor of Practice at Duke University  where he taught a graduate course on school violence. He also served as an Adjunct Professor [2008/09] at George Washington University, in Washington D.C., where he taught a graduate course on policy analysis.