Superintendent Message: update March 9, 2018

March 9, 2018

Dear Spencerport Families,

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, remains in our hearts and minds, and serves as the impetus for many important conversations nationwide, locally, and within our own district.

The Spencerport Central School District reviews its comprehensive safety plans and protocols regularly, and through the years, we have continued to augment our security efforts through consultation with police experts, professional trainings, practice drills, and surveillance equipment. Since the tragedy in Florida, we revisited our safety programs and initiatives to reinforce with staff that we follow and practice all protocols as it relates to our emergency response plans, building hours and access. We also know that parents have reached out to us, and this dialogue serves to help our protocols and we appreciate this partnership.

As I previously shared, a team of administrators and board members attended the countywide forum on Feb. 26 to discuss school safety. This served as a great session for opening dialogue, sharing practices, and strengthening the line of communication among police, mental health agencies, schools and homes.  

Since then, Spencerport principals and administrators also met with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Ogden Police Department (OPD) to identify any additional ways we can make our schools as safe as possible. One outcome of this meeting will be a routine presence of sheriff deputies and OPD officers. We hope that this presence will continue to:
reassure students and staff, 
serve as an opportunity for the authorities to familiarize themselves with the buildings beyond the blueprints, and 
build rapport with our students, families and staff to focus on prevention and support.  

We are fortunate to have these partnerships with the authorities, and understand the importance of collaboration with all stakeholders in order to ensure a safe and secure learning environment. 

Parents and students are essential to this work. We encourage you to report any concern through your school, confidential tip line (1-877-474-9403) or 911. In addition, please reinforce with your student the importance of paying special attention during our mandated emergency drills. It is vital for students to know and understand the definitions and responses to each situation, and we’ve attached the list here for your review and to discuss at home. 

In addition to the conversation about security in our schools, the tragedy in Florida has also prompted students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and high school and middle school students around the country to mobilize a movement on gun control. On March 14, this student-led movement is calling for a national walkout at 10 a.m. to last 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost in Florida and bring attention to gun control.

In Spencerport we realize there are many positions on this issue, yet view this as an opportunity for students to express and demonstrate their freedom of speech.  Our role is to:
ensure the participants are safe; 
encourage any activity to be respectful to all students; and 
reinforce that our student code of conduct is followed. 

Since this is a student-centered event, Principals Sean McCabe and Ned Dale have met with students in their respective schools to discuss their ideas and offer logistical support for March 14. Both schools have agreed to allow students to “walkout” of classes to their auditoriums for supervised activities such as signing letters to Congress and elected officials, submitting suggestions to make schools safer, and time to honor the 17 victims. Students will then be expected to return to class.

If your student plans to participate in the March 14 walkout, please talk with them about why they want to participate. Give them your perspective and how you would hope to see things resolved. These types of dialogues can provide the best learning experiences for all of our students. 


Thank you.

Dan


Dan Milgate
Superintendent of Schools