In light of the recent tragic shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school, I know that there are questions and concerns about how we ensure that our schools are safe. Therefore, I felt it was important to talk about what we have done and are doing at Mohonasen and to reassure you that the safety of our students, teachers and staff is the district’s top priority.
Our administrators and staff continually evaluate district and individual building safety practices to ensure we are keeping current with best safety and security practices and doing everything possible to make our buildings as safe as they can be. Our director of security and high school resource officer serve as valuable members of our team, working with local and state law enforcement officials on an ongoing basis to implement the most up-to-date safety procedures. In addition, they facilitate training for all faculty and staff in the district, and we consult with national and regional experts regarding how to improve what we are doing.
Over the years, Mohonasen Central School District has been known as a leader in school safety, and we continue to implement a variety of measures and programs to deter school violence. The majority of these steps focus on building a stronger school culture and community through communication, respect and responsibility.
Security measures in place at each building include:
- All staff members are required to wear an identification badge at all times.
- All new employees, including teachers, are fingerprinted before they are hired and extensive background checks are done by the New York State Education Department and FBI.
- Only one entrance in each building is accessible to the public throughout the day. All other doors with outside access are locked.
- At all schools, visitors may enter the school building only through the main entrance. School personnel can see and/or speak to the individual prior to allowing them access to a secure vestibule. The visitor is required to provide official identification, such as a driver’s license, which is verified through an electronic database. Once cleared, the visitor is “buzzed in” and can enter the building.
- At every building, visitors are required to sign-in and wear name tags throughout the length of their stay.
- All buildings are equipped with video surveillance equipment.
We know the importance of students feeling connected to their school community, which is why our staff and teachers make building relationships with students a priority. Our school social workers, counselors, psychologists and administrators are also always available to meet with students who want to express concerns or just talk.
An important step in ensuring safety is to be alert to potential warning signs any of us see or hear. In fact, since the tragedy in Florida, in a number of schools in states around the country, students have been instrumental in providing critical information about things that they were hearing which in turn allowed the schools to thwart potential acts of violence. A threat could be something seen on social media or something that is heard in a conversation. That’s where the crucial concept, “see something, say something” comes into play. We strongly encourage all school staff, students, parents and community members to promptly report suspicious or potentially dangerous activity to the district and local police department.
Additionally, parents, students, and community members can always share information with any school administrator or school employee, who are trained to follow appropriate reporting protocols. Strategic safety plans and emergency protocols are certainly critical, but close communication and knowing our students and school community is just as important.
Many students may have questions or concerns and have difficulty processing what they are seeing or hearing on the news regarding the Florida tragedy as well as other acts of violence. Following are some resources that may be helpful in talking with your child in an age-appropriate manner about tragic events:
We all want the very best learning environment possible for our Mohonasen students, and we thank you for reviewing this important information. If you have any questions or concerns about the information above, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 518-356-8210.
Dr. Kathleen A. Spring
Superintendent of Schools
Mohonasen Central School District