Last year was a difficult year as all of us had to come to terms with the Newtown tragedy. Many of the assumptions we had regarding school safety were challenged. Schools across the country are still reacting to our new reality.
As we start this new school year, I would to like review our district's security additions and our plans for moving forward. First, the Board of Education released a statement during the summer indicating that a multi-year plan for improving security was approved. The position of Safety and Security Director was established, and Mr. Joseph Pangaro was hired. The Board also stated the following, "Please note that due to concerns regarding operational security and the desire to insure the safety and security of our students and staff, we will not be releasing any further details." This is a recognized practice in the security and law enforcement industry. The complete statement is located on the district web site.
Going forward, I would like to focus on two issues. Passage Point, the new on-line visitor management system, will be implemented in phases during the next few months. This system will require parents to register on-line when they want to visit a school. Until it is fully implemented, we will maintain the protocol that was implemented last year, which requires parents who do not have a scheduled appointment to telephone the main office of the school approximately twenty minutes before arrival.
The second issue involves your role as a parent in the security of our schools. It is my belief that everyone is responsible for our students' safety. The only way that we can improve is if we work together. All of our bus drivers, including substitute drivers, have photo identification. If you don't see the photo identification, I need for you to ask the driver to see it. Calling transportation later in the day or sending me an email doesn't improve security. When you ask the driver to produce his or her identification, you improve security in the district. Likewise, if you are able to enter a building without following the proper protocol, informing the front desk of the error improves security. In essence, if you are aware of a breach in security, it is your responsibility to act immediately and inform a district employee. Any delay allows the breach in security to continue, and that is the real risk. Many parents have shared with me that they are hesitant to say anything because they are concerned about getting an employee in trouble or causing an issue that might impact their child. That will not occur as long as I am superintendent. It is important that we recognize that security in our schools must take precedent over other concerns, and we must recognize that our school security is something we all want to improve.
I hope that I can count on your active support as we work together to make our schools as safe as they can be. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in this important matter.
John J. Marciante, Jr., Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools