The following is from the South Orange-Maplewood School District:
Dear SOMSD Community,
I am writing to update you on the steps which SOMSD is taking to ensure the safety of each and every student and staff member. Given the palpable sense of fear in the wake of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, I wanted to communicate with you directly, both as the district’s Director of Safety and Security, and also as a parent of both high school and middle school students myself.
Prior to the tragedy in Florida, SOMSD was already initiating and implementing numerous security reforms. We are continually assessing and improving our security protocols, and are planning many more specific enhancements. Current and recent initiatives include, but are not limited to:
- We developed closer relationships with the police and fire departments in both towns. The response from our first responders has been outstanding, and we have forged an even stronger partnership to safeguard our children, staff and schools.
- We have provided all principals and assistant principals with 24/7 access to live video feeds of district security cameras. The police and fire departments will soon have live access to these video feeds as well.
- We have been updating emergency manuals, to ensure their efficacy, timeliness and thoroughness.
- We created a district-wide crisis response team, to serve as both a source of information and a vehicle through which direct services can be delivered, and which includes members with a breadth of experience from different disciplines.
- We are strengthening each school’s crisis response team to improve consistent training district-wide, and to address school-specific infrastructure and security issues.
- We are in the process of developing more comprehensive training on responding to active shooter scenarios.
I will be presenting a Safety and Security Update to the Board of Education at their meeting on March 19, 2018. While I cannot publicly disclose all components of SOMSD’s security protocols, so that we do not compromise the effectiveness of those that should remain confidential, I do look forward to communicating many of our initiatives that evening, and invite you to attend or watch on TV or on demand.
Awareness and participation are crucial to implementing security reform. We want our schools to maintain their feeling of community and, at the same time, in America today, each one of us must always remain vigilant. Because of this, I am directly asking for your support to implement change and ensure the safety of our children and staff.
In closing, from parent to parent, I want you to know that increasing security within our school district is a top priority. I encourage any parent/guardian with concerns about safety to contact me directly at [email protected] .
Dr. Thomas Shea
Director of Safety and Security