January 11, 2019
Dear Peru School Community,
I am writing to the school community to dispel any rumors and provide facts on what took place during Peru’s latest lock down which occurred on Tuesday, January 8th, at the end of the Elementary school day (+/- 3:10 pm). The lock down was triggered electronically by accident. A staff member was cleaning the face of their phone and unintentionally activated the lock down by striking the exact key pattern used to initiate the electronic lock down. Once the code was hit, a district-wide, all-call message went out within each building announcing a lock down.
Facts of the lock downs in our district this year 2018-2019:
- NY State requires all school districts to conduct 4 lock down drills and 8 fire drills per school year.
- 1st accidental lock down – The code used to activate the system was a voicemail box pass code of an independent contractor who initiated the lock down when attempting to check their voicemail. The police responded to the incident as if it were live.
- 2nd accidental lock down – While cleaning, a custodial worker struck the panic button in the office that triggered the system.
- 3rd and latest accidental lock down – A staff member was cleaning the face of the phone and initiated the automatic lock down by unintentionally pressing the code.
What has the District done to prevent these “accidents” from happening in the future?
- The District has changed the activation code to minimize the risk of inadvertently activating the lock down.
- Provided more education regarding lock down protocols.
- Enhanced methods of providing a calm environment for students who may have emotional distress during a lock down.
- Worked with our alarm contractor to enhance our practices and safety protocols.
- Continued to monitor and refine its safety procedures.
Our goal as a District is to provide the safest environment for our students to learn in and our teachers to teach in. Part of our challenge is to prepare our students and staff for unexpected risks that have been demonstrated by incidents throughout our country over the past several years. Rehearsal, preparation and organization are our best methods of preparing for an actual incident which we all hope will never happen.
The other issue I want to address is the various means of communication the District will use to inform the school community.
These communication methods include, but are not limited to:
- Robo call/All-call phone message
- Text message
The District will notify our school community once we know all circumstances surrounding any occurrence. If it is a planned drill, we will communicate the lock down once it has been activated (within minutes). If it is unplanned, we will deal with the situation first, then communicate critical information to our parents and greater community (changes in bus dismissal times, drop off or pick up points or other details). In the future, if you approach the school building and see the emergency blue strobe lights activated, please go back to your car until the strobes turn off. The lights signify that the District is in a lock down and no one will be able to let you in the building. Upon completion of the lock down, the lights will be shut off, at which time you would be able to approach the building to be let in.
Thank you for your continued support. We will always make sure to provide the safest environment for your child(ren) so they can thrive in the classroom.
Thomas W. Palmer Ed.D