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District letter to community regarding security measures

Dear North Syracuse Central School District Community:

The tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada remind us how vulnerable we all are in public settings. We acknowledge that these recent events have caused an increased level of concern. These events and others dating back to Columbine, have challenged us to rethink our approach to school safety and security.

The North Syracuse Central School District has continuously improved physical security while we proactively address situations that have the potential to result in violent outbursts either in our schools or surrounding community. Part of our proactive approach is to maintain a school environment that is welcoming to the community and supportive of our students and staff; a place where anxieties can be reduced and conflict deescalated effectively. We have improved the safety of our students, staff and community members in our schools through several initiatives. Each building is locked during school hours and visitors must enter through a single point of entry. Significant investments have been made in access control and camera surveillance systems. Visitors are processed through the Raptor System which requires them to present identification and wear a sticker that identifies them as a visitor. In the event of an emergency, we are proficient at getting our students and staff behind locked doors, as practiced in drills throughout the school year. We have created an environment where we can identify threats, rapidly lockdown buildings and call law enforcement to the scene. We have and will continue to make improvements to our building entryways, thereby additionally reducing the risk that an intruder will have access to our buildings.

Communication and information sharing within our buildings, with law enforcement and the community is critical to our collective safety. We are working to make sure that channels of communication are open so that distressed students and staff can be identified and supported. We encourage you to share any information with the district that will allow us to take a proactive approach to any situation or specific threat. This includes information about unusual behaviors or changes in behavior in either students or staff members. We have an easily accessible Tip Line with an icon on the top, right-hand side of any page on our website. Click here to access our Tip Line web page.

We are fortunate to have excellent relationships with law enforcement including the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, Cicero Police, North Syracuse Police and the New York State Troopers. As a large suburban school district, multiple agencies respond to incidents very rapidly. We currently have three School Resource Officers (SROs) in the District who are Onondaga County Deputy Sheriffs. The intent of the SRO program is to bring police closer to our students and staff where they can develop meaningful relationships which allow us to proactively handle situations that may develop within our schools.

We welcome your input into the ongoing discussions about school safety and appreciate your continued support.

Sincerely,

Annette Speach, Superintendent of Schools
Donald F.X. Keegan, Associate Superintendent for Business Services

Click here to download this letter

Resources about security/school violence: