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Thursday, February 22, 2018
Letter to Parents Regarding Florida Tragedy and School Safety
In light of the tragic incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, I would like to reiterate our commitment to student safety here at WSWHE BOCES.
Student safety is of great importance for all of us who work and teach within these buildings. This is not a new effort for us, however, incidents such as the one in Florida remind us that we can never take the safety of our students and staff for granted. However, I want you to know a few things we do to focus on safety. Each of our buildings has a safety team who regularly meet to discuss and review the most up-to-date safety and security precautions. They also spend time making sure that our staff is trained and understand what to do in an emergency situation to keep all of our students and staff safe. Additionally, our a District-Wide Safety committee, led by myself, reviews our training and drill status, and makes adjustments to our protocols as needed. In order to facilitate a strong working relationship with law enforcement, we often include local law enforcement officials to participate and evaluate our drills.
Our district-wide safety plan, which is reviewed each year, and continually adjusted, gives us a framework for emergency training and response so that in the event of a crisis, each of us can take appropriate action and work together as a team. The emergency drills we practice each year (four lockdown drills, eight fire/evacuation drills, and at least one emergency early release drill) reinforce our commitment to preparedness and safety.
Our buildings are secure with controlled access at building entrances, and security cameras within. At the F. Donald Myers and Southern Adirondack Education Centers we have school safety officers on the premises. But security plans and procedures are not the only way we have worked to keep our students safe. Our focus on student safety includes a commitment to the mental and emotional well-being of our students.
Our students have access to a range of mental health and counseling services across our organization. As part of our educational programs, we employ a host of school counselors, social workers, social work associates, and mental health counselors. Our professionals are regularly trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and are skilled in handling crisis situations and following up with students. Our trained staff and counselors are here to help and support any student who may be in distress and we urge students and parents to make us aware of any specific concerns you may have.
What You Can Do to Prepare for Emergencies
As a parent of a student who recently graduated from a BOCES program and of a current high school student, the safety of the students we serve has been, and will continue to be very important to me. We take the work of keeping students safe very seriously, and your support and participation in our efforts makes a tremendous difference. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your student’s principal or school counselor with any specific concerns or questions you may have.
James P. Dexter
District Superintendent of Schools