WCSD’s hearing on safety plan yields little feedback

Watertown High School, 1335 Washington St. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The Watertown City School District will hold a public hearing on the district’s 2022-23 safety plan next week.

The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, in the district conference room at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School, followed by the regularly scheduled board of education meeting.

The proposed plan, and accompanying documents, are posted to the district website, www.watertowncsd.org.

The district says its safety plan is designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate coordination with local and county resources in the event of such emergencies. This plan is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level.

Under state regulations, the plan was made available for public comment and will be approved in July. The district-level plan may be adopted by the school board after at least one public hearing that provides for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties.

According to the plan, in the event of an emergency or violent incident, crisis-trained staff members will provide the initial response. Upon the activation of the Crisis Response Team, the superintendent of schools or designee will be notified and, where appropriate, local emergency officials will also be notified. Emergency response actions, including crisis response, may be supplemented by involving county and state resources through established protocols.

For district emergencies, the superintendent or their designee acts as incident commander. For building-level emergencies, the administrator or their designee acts as incident commander.

The district may conduct a security review of the facility, as needed, with the assistance of local law enforcement and/or the Board of Cooperative Educational Services Risk Management Service to determine what security measures should be adopted.

The following security measures are in place:

• Employee ID badges to identify staff

• Door access system to limit access to instructional buildings

• Video surveillance to provide additional monitoring capability

• Substitute sign-in to identify authorized substitutes

• Visitor sign-in to identify visitors and purpose of visits

• Visitor badges to identify authorized visitors to students and staff

• Fingerprinting and background checks on new hires

• Automatic lockdown/mass notification to expedite emergency notification

General actions in response to emergencies within the district include school cancellation prior to the start of the day, early dismissal, hold in place, shelter in place, evacuation, lockout and lockdown. Emergencies include threats of violence, hostage/kidnapping, natural/weather related, gas/transformer leaks, systems failure, fire/explosion, intruder, explosive/bomb threat, hazardous material, medical emergency and death.

During an emergency, the district has the following resources available:

• Automated external defibrillators

• Smoke detectors

• Emergency lighting

• Portable fire extinguishers

• Spill cleanup/absorbent materials

• First aid supplies/personal protective equipment

The district will conduct annual training for both staff and students on school safety issues. Training will be planned by the superintendent and assistant superintendents. The training may consist of videos, classroom activities, general assemblies, tabletop exercises and full-scale drills. Drills and other exercises will be coordinated with local, county and state emergency responders. Existing plans will be revised in response to post-incident evaluations of these drills.

Any amendments to the district safety plan will be submitted to the New York State Education Department within 30 days of adoption. Building-level plans will be supplied to both local and state police within 30 days of adoption. While linked to the WCSD Safety Plan, Building Level Emergency Plans will be kept confidential and will not be subject to disclosure under Article 6 of Public Officers Law or any other provision of law, in accordance with state Education Law.

People with questions or comments related to the plan may direct them to Superintendent Patricia B. LaBarr at 315-785-3705 or plabarr@watertowncsd.org.

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