The following is a message from Harrison Central School District Superintendent Dr. Louis N. Wool in response to the recent tragedy at Santa Fe High School in Texas.
Sadness Action Preparedness
May 21, 2018
Dear Members of the Harrison Central School District Learning Community,
As unthinkable and unimaginable as it seems, just a few months since the devastating tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I write again to express our profound condolences and a shared sorrow at the senseless loss of innocent lives at Santa Fe High School in Texas. I reiterate and reassure you that the safety of our students and staff is and remains our first and most important priority.
In the midst of another school shooting, we are consumed with angst, anger, and by a renewed commitment to action. In the wake of the Parkland tragedy, I visited each faculty, met with high school students, and every PTA. We spoke of important and reasoned changes that must be addressed to make schools and the very experience of childhood safe and sacred again. The Board of Education and I urged you then, and we urge you now, to let your voice be heard in this important call to action. Please click on this Board of Education Advocacy link, which provides you the opportunity to participate in demanding legislative reform at the state and federal level.
School safety is not a new issue to our school district, nor to me. At the time of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, I advocated as the President of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents for legislative reform to improve oversight and limit access to firearms. Please click here to read the opinion.
We are continuously upgrading and evaluating security in each of our schools. Everyone shares in the responsibility to make our schools safer by being attentive to those around us who may need help or who may benefit from the interventions and supports a caring school community can provide. Making us aware of students in need is the best way to keep everyone safe. Our schools are welcoming places, characterized by open communication among students, faculty and staff. This is the single most effective tool for ensuring school safety.
We benefit from a strong and collaborative relationship with the Harrison Police Department. The HPD is dedicated to your child’s safety and are vital partners in our efforts to make our schools safe. The HPD participates in our safety drills and planning, provides feedback and advice, and utilizes our schools for training purposes. Most significantly, the District and the HPD have carefully aligned systems and communication protocols to ensure the most efficient and timely response to any emergencies.
The District has implemented a number of security initiatives over the past several years and has continued to upgrade security procedures throughout this school year. These include an ongoing review of procedures, implementation of the latest school safety technology, and the coordinated delivery of professional development and support to faculty and staff to improve readiness. Here are some of the initiatives I am able to share:
We will continue to monitor and assess our security procedures and utilize new tools as they become available. However, the most important and effective part of any security plan is ensuring that our teachers, psychologists, social workers, building administrators and support staff have profound knowledge of, and authentic relationships with, the students we serve. Our greatest responsibility and our most effective strategy to promote student safety is ensuring that all students who require help receive it, and that no child goes unnoticed or unsupported.
We ask you, as our most important partners in keeping our children safe, to share information or concerns with our principals and appropriate support staff whenever you have information that you think may be important to the health, safety, security, and well-being of any one of our students or staff members.
We are thankful for your ongoing partnership, and be assured that we view the safety of your children as a sacred trust. We work diligently and passionately to ensure that our students are safe, nurtured, engaged in learning, and happy during their time in our schools.
Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.