The Peru Central School District has made great efforts to create a safe environment for students to learn in and for teachers to teach in. Public schools across the country have taken a look at their physical security systems in a multitude of ways. Many schools including Peru have started to limit access to their buildings by locking all unmonitored doors and requiring all visitors to check in at the main offices. Visitors are now issued district identification that they are required to wear while they are on campus. We have installed surveillance cameras in the hallways, gymnasiums, cafeteria, parking lots and on each of the school buses. We’ve hired security guards in the evening to allow community members in the school, whereas in the past, after school it was near impossible to get into the school once the office staff left for the day. We want our buildings open to our community, but with some order and safe practices.
Liaison with Law Enforcement and First Responders
We have made great efforts to establish a strong relationship with our law enforcement and first responder agencies to be proactive in case of any emergency that could happen on the school’s campus. Public anxiety nationally over recent school violence has led public schools to provide violence prevention programs. Although statistics show that most schools will never experience a shooting, fear fueled by attacks like those in Parkland and the later one in Santa Fe, Texas, that killed 10 people spills over and affects students around the country.
Even after a summer break, schools continue to face those effects: new mandates crafted by state and local laws, more visible security measures in their buildings, the need to calm concerned parents and students, and a slew of copycat threats that often force precautionary closures and lockdowns.
We meet quarterly with our law enforcement agencies and first responders to go over any new information that has been shared through their organizations or through the New York State Education Department as well as discussing the current happenings within the district.
We have a school resource officer on our campuses that moves throughout the four schools on campus. He is very visible and approachable if students or staff would like to talk with him. The district has contracted him through the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office. We have the State Police coming on campus twice a week as a measure for the troopers to understand our buildings’ configurations and for students to see police officers in a different light than always as the enforcer of the laws and a “Sargent of Arms” for the courts. We want a safe place for all at Peru.
Safety has always been a priority in our School District. We have strengthened our ability to provide that safe environment for our students and staff through our new social media platform. We are working with Social Sentinel to help us understand the security and wellness pattern risks, and opportunities in our community and identify where our attention is best spent. There are three aspects of the platform; 1. Social Media Scanning, 2. Integration with Email and 3. Shareit.
- Social Media Scanning: They are monitoring digital conversations that are taking place in the digital world. There is a staggering number of public social media conversations that take place every day, some of which indicate harm. Finding these are a nearly impossible task for any safety team or individual administrator. This platform works 24-7 in the background to surf communications relevant to our community. Their technology identifies potential threats in and beyond a geofence while respecting the boundaries of privacy and free speech. Public Posts with potentially harmful content are delivered as alerts or discussions for our administration to assess.
- Integration with E-Mail: As school-sanctioned email accounts are the new norm, so does the onus on the school’s responsibility of what’s shared over them. The Social Sentinel’s proprietary technology identifies only the indications of potential harm and wellness concerns discovered in our system.
- Shareit: This component of the solution provides everyone with a voice. We understand today’s students face challenges far beyond those in a classroom. On the heels of catastrophic events that occur in school environments, it will allow the students and school community a tool to share the information with the administration.
School Safety with Enhanced Drills
The goal of the Peru Central School District is to make the drills Peru performs even more effective through best practices and preparation. When drills are carefully planned, thoughtfully and thoroughly executed, the school community is more likely to be better prepared. We take the safety of our students and staff very seriously and we understand a key element that isn’t generally a factor during our drills, but in real emergencies-is emotion.
Our drills are always designed with sensitivity in mind and there is no intention of a shock value type drill. We want to prepare our students and staff with best practices in case a crisis does occur. We are required by law to perform eight (8) fire drills and four (4) lock down drills. We will always perform our drills with diligence and with intent to prepare our students and staff.
The district in the past has performed a total evacuation of the campus, an active shooter drill with all of our first responder agencies and staff and we will continue to enhance our drills with the intent to be stronger as an organization. This year we will conduct a go-home –early drill where we ask our parents to make sure we have an alternative place for their child(ren) to go if we had to close school early. We will be conducting that drill on Thursday, October 3 and we will be sending out specifics. Preparedness is our best defense in minimizing chaos.