Draft District-Wide Safety Plan Available

The following is a draft version of Schalmont’s District-Wide Safety Plan. Schalmont is required to make this available to our community for comment for 30 days prior to adoption.

If you have a question or comment please email Superintendent Dr. Thomas Reardon at treardon@schalmont.net. Thank you.

Introduction

Emergencies and violent incidents in school districts are critical issues that we must address expeditiously and effectively. Districts are required to develop a district-wide school safety plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate the coordination of the district with local and county resources in the event of such incidents or emergencies. The district-wide plan is responsive to the needs of all schools within the district and is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level. Districts stand at risk from a wide variety of acts of violence, natural, and manmade disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses prevention, response, and recovery concerning a variety of emergencies in each school district and its schools.

The Schalmont Central School District supports the SAVE Legislation and intends to facilitate the planning process. The Superintendent of Schools encourages and advocates on-going district-wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.

Section I: General Considerations and Planning Guidelines

Purpose

The Schalmont Central School District district-wide school safety plan was developed pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17. At the direction of the Schalmont Central School District Board of Education, the Superintendent of the Schalmont Central School District appointed a district-wide school safety team and charged it with the development and maintenance of the district-wide school safety plan.

Identification of Chief Emergency Officer

The Schalmont Central School District designates the School Superintendent as the district’s chief emergency officer whose duties shall include, but not be limited to:

  1. Coordination of the communication between school staff, law enforcement, and other first responders;
  2. Lead the efforts of the district-wide school safety team in the completion and yearly update by September 1st, of the district-wide school safety plan and the coordination of the districtwide plan with the building-level emergency response plans;
  3. Ensure staff understanding of the district-wide school safety plan;
  4. Ensure the completion and yearly update by September 1st, of building-level emergency response plans for each school building;
  5. Assist in the selection of security-related technology and development of policies for the use of such technology;
  6. Coordinate appropriate safety, security, and emergency training for district and school staff, including required training in the emergency response plan yearly by September 15th; and
  7. Ensure the conduct of required evacuation and lock-down drills in all district buildings as required by Education Law section 807.
Identification of School District Team

The Schalmont Central School District has created a district-wide school safety team appointed by the board of education consisting of, but not limited to, representatives of the school board, teacher, administrator, and parent organizations, school safety personnel, and other school personnel.

The members of the team by title are as follows:

  • School Board Member
  • Superintendent
  • Business Official
  • Principal*
  • Director of Facilities*
  • Teacher Representative*
  • PTA President (or family representative)*
  • School Nurse*
  • SRO*
  • Fire Official*
  • EMS*
  • Student (will not have access to confidential building-level emergency response plans or be present where confidential building-level emergency response plans are being discussed)

* = Denotes members of school-based teams

Concept of Operations
  • The district-wide school safety plan is directly linked to the individual building-level emergency response plans to the school. Protocols reflected in the district-wide school safety plan guide the development and implementation of different building-level emergency response plans.
  • In the event of an emergency or violent incident, the initial response to all emergencies at an individual school is by the building-level emergency response team.
  • Upon the activation of the building-level emergency response team, the Superintendent of Schools or their designee is notified and, where appropriate, local emergency officials are notified and called into action.
  • Efforts may be supplemented by County and State resources through existing protocols.
Plan Review and Public Comment

This plan shall be reviewed and maintained by the Schalmont Central School District district-wide school safety team and reviewed on an annual basis on or before September 1st of each year.

A copy of the plan is available in the Superintendent’s Office and on the district’s website.

  • Pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17 (e)(3), this plan was made available for public comment 30 days prior to its initial adoption in July 2020. The district-wide school safety plan was then adopted by the School Board in August 2020, after the one required public hearing that provided for the participation of school personnel, parents, students, and any other interested parties.
  • While linked to the district-wide school safety plan, the building-level emergency response plans shall be confidential. They shall not be subject to disclosure under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law or any other provision of law, in accordance with Education Law Section 2801-a.
  • The building-level emergency response plans shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed except to authorized department staff and law enforcement officers.
  • Full copies of the district-wide school safety plan and any amendments are submitted to the New York State Education Department within 30 days of adoption by posting this public plan on the district’s website. The building-level emergency response plans are supplied to the Rotterdam Police Department, the Schenectady County Sheriff, and New York State Police within 30 days of annual review and approval.

Section II: General Emergency Response Planning

The district-wide school safety plan provides the framework for the building-level emergency response plans. The purpose of a uniform plan is to ensure district-wide continuity for emergency responses. These general emergency responses are used to assist school employees, students, parents, and emergency responders learn one system that can be used in any of the Schalmont schools. This is particularly beneficial as students move from elementary to middle school, then to high school, and as full-time, part-time, and substitute employees travel among the schools.

Identification of sites of a potential emergency, including:
  • The district-wide school safety team, in conjunction with local officials, has identified areas outside of school property that may impact a district facility during an emergency.
  • Factors that were considered included population, presence of hazardous materials, and potential for emergency based on national trends and proximity to district property.
  • A list of areas has been identified as having the potential to impact within the district. This list has been created for reference and awareness. The list is not all-inclusive for every emergency. However, these areas have been identified as having the most probable impact on district facilities or district boundaries should they have or create an emergency. A list of potential community-based hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plans.
  • The district-wide school safety team has recognized that there are many factors that could cause an emergency within our school building. There are also factors that need to be considered when responding to an emergency. A list of potential internal and external hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plans.

The district has developed multi-hazard response guides. These guidelines are located in the building-level emergency response plans and are in ICS (Incident Command System) format. Plans for taking the following actions in response to an emergency where appropriate are, including but not limited to:

  • Initial Actions
  • Command Post Location (primary and secondary)
  • Shelter in Place: Used to shelter students/staff inside the school
    • Severe Weather
    • Bomb Threat
    • HazMat Incident
  • Hold-In Place: Limits student/staff movement while dealing with short-term emergencies
  • Evacuation: Used to evacuate students/staff from the school
    • Before, during, and after school hours, including security during evacuation and evacuation routes
    • Evacuation/Relocation Sites (internal and external)
  • Lockout: Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of the school
  • Lockdown: Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school.
  • School Cancellation
  • Early Dismissal

Emergencies may include, but are not limited to:

  • Air Pollution
  • Anthrax/Biological
  • Aviation Crash
  • Bldg. Structural
  • Failure
  • Bomb Threat
  • Civil Disturbance
  • Crimes Against People
  • Earthquake
  • Elec. System Failure
  • Energy Supply Loss
  • Epidemic
  • Explosion
  • Fire Alarm
  • Activation
  • Flood
  • Heating System Failure
  • Hostage Situation
  • Intruder Situation
  • Loss of Building
  • Loss of Buses
  • Mass Casualty
  • Medical Emergency
  • Natural Gas Leak
  • Radiological
  • Roof Leak/Failure
  • School Bus Accident
  • Severe Weather
  • Emergency
  • Threats of Violence
  • Water Emergency
  • Pandemic (particularly precautions as per the COVID-19 outbreak: https://schalmontold.neric.org/reboot/)

The district has identified various district resources that may be available for use during an emergency, including the identification of personnel, equipment, and shelters.

Using the ICS (Incident Command System), the district has identified the school official authorized to make decisions during an emergency. Through ICS, the procedures to coordinate the use of school district resources and the workforce during emergencies are clearly defined. ICS also identifies the staff members and their backups assigned to provide assistance during emergencies.

The district has policies and procedures for annual multi-hazard school safety training for staff and students, including the strategies for implementing training related to multi-hazards. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, all staff will undergo annual training by September 15, 2016, and each subsequent September 15th, after that on the building-level emergency response plans, which includes components on violence prevention and mental health. New employees hired after the start of the school year receive this training within 30 days of hire or as part of the district’s existing new hire training program, whichever is sooner. The district certifies that this training is completed during the October NYSED BEDS data collection.

The following procedures have been established to provide this training on an annual basis to include but not limited to: early dismissal/go home drill, shelter-in-place, hold-in-place, evacuation/fire drills, lockout, lockdown, tabletop exercises, and Incident Command System training.

The district conducts drills and other training exercises to test components of the emergency response plan, including the use of tabletop exercises, in coordination with local, county, and state emergency responders and preparedness officials. A debriefing concludes each test to determine if changes to the plan are necessary.

Fire and Emergency Drills. The school district, at least once every school year, and where possible in cooperation with local county emergency preparedness plan officials, conducts one test of its emergency response procedures under its building-level emergency response plans, including sheltering, lock-down, or early dismissal, at a time not to occur more than 15 minutes earlier than the normal dismissal time.

Education Law §§ 807(1-a), 807 (b): Fire and Emergency Drills

The July 2016 amendments expanded fire drill requirements also to include emergency drills to prepare students to be able to respond appropriately in the event of a sudden emergency. The statute now requires twelve drills to be conducted each school year, four of which must be lock-down drills; the remaining eight are required to be evacuation drills. There is still a requirement that eight of the required twelve drills must be completed in the first half of the school year. However, the date of completion has been changed from December 1 to December 31 of each school year.

The statute now explicitly requires schools to conduct essential lockdown drills because they prepare students and staff to respond to the highest level of threat with the most urgent action and the least margin for error. The goal is to have schools conduct drills where they immediately clear hallways, lock doors, and take positions out of sight to practice their ability to put the building into a protective posture as quickly as possible. These emergency measures allow time for responding law enforcement to arrive on the scene and neutralize the threat. If possible, law enforcement should be involved in the drills to help prepare students and staff for their interactions and release from lock-down by uniformed officers. However, law enforcement involvement is not required by the new legislative mandate. Other protective actions such as lock-out or shelter in place are emergency actions that are usually preceded by some degree of warning time and do not require the immediate response necessary for a lock-down. While the school should be well versed in their lock-out and shelter in place protocols, lock-down is the only type of protective action that is specifically required by the statute. Lockdown and fire drills will take place using a socially distant protocol as per COVID-19 guidelines, but training will be provided to staff and students that delineate between a drill (COVID-19 procedures) and a real emergency (in which social distancing would be sacrificed for the imminent threat).

Section III: Responding to Threats and Acts of Violence

The schools refer to their Crisis Intervention Plans via the post-incident response team and the Multi-Hazard Emergency Response Guides located in the building-level emergency response plans. These are reviewed by the district-wide school safety team to ensure content and consistency throughout the district. These policies and procedures are for responding to implied or direct threats of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel, and visitors to the school, including threats by students against themselves, which includes suicide. The following types of procedures are addressed in the plan:

  • The use of staff trained in de-escalation or other strategies to diffuse the situation. Training is offered through Character Education, and Suicide prevention.
  • Informing the Superintendent or designee of implied or direct threats.
    Determining the level of threat with the Superintendent and building-level emergency response team members.
  • Contact the appropriate law enforcement agency, if necessary.
  • Monitoring the situation, adjusting the district’s responses as appropriate to include possible implementation of the building-level emergency response team.
  • Communication with parents/guardians. When a student implies or specifically threatens self-inflicted violence, including suicide, the school’s administrator(s) or designated staff member directly contacts the respective parents/guardians.

The Multi-Hazard Emergency Response Guides in the building-level emergency response plans provide guidance on the district’s policies and procedures for responding to direct acts of violence (i.e., Crimes Against Persons, Hostage Taking, Intruder, and Kidnapping) by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school, including consideration of zero-tolerance policies for school violence. The following types of procedures are addressed in the plan:

  • Inform the Superintendent/designee.
  • Determine the level of threat with the superintendent/designee and the building-level emergency response team.
  • If the situation warrants, isolate the immediate area.
  • Monitor the situation; adjust the level of response as appropriate; if necessary, initiate lockdown, evacuation, sheltering, and early dismissal procedures as needed, if needed.
  • Contact appropriate law enforcement agency.

NOTE: The Schalmont Central School District “Code of Conduct” describes policies and procedures for responding to acts of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school.

Response protocols are identified in the Building-level Emergency Response Plans in the ICS format along with definitions of ICS Roles and Responsibilities. The Multi-Hazard Emergency Response Guides address specific procedures for responding to bomb threats, intruders, hostage-takings, and kidnapping.

The following protocols for appropriate responses to emergencies is provided as examples of responses to bomb threats, hostage-takings, intrusions, and kidnappings:

  • Identification of decision-makers.
  • Plans to safeguard students and staff.
  • Procedures to provide transportation, if necessary.
  • Procedures to notify parents.
  • Procedures to notify the media.
  • Debriefing procedures with the Crisis team, where appropriate.

The district has established policies and procedures to contact parents, guardians or persons in parental relation to the students in the event of a violent incident or an early dismissal. In the Schalmont Central School District, the following communication methods are taken:

  • For small-scale incidents, school personnel directly call the parents/guardians of all students directly impacted by any acts of violence. All other parents/guardians receive an informational letter. The Crisis Intervention Team is activated and available. If needed, as needed, community meetings are scheduled promptly for further discussion.
  • For any significant incident, the district works with the media (TV, radio, Gazette newspaper, Times Union Source Line) along with our School News Notifier, District Website, Social Media, emails, and School Connects automatic phone tree, to relay pertinent school-related information (i.e., how and where can parents be reunited with children, etc.). It is unfortunate, but essential to remember, that major emergencies can quickly tie up phone lines with incoming and outgoing calls, and the traffic of emergency vehicles can soon block roads, concerned parents and community members. School personnel directly call the parents/guardians of all students directly impacted by any acts of violence. All other parents/guardians receive an informational letter. Community meetings are scheduled in a timely manner for further discussion to include the Crisis Intervention Plan and post-incident response team.

Section IV: Communication with Others

The District-wide School Safety Plan provides the framework for the Building-level Emergency Response Plans.

The Schalmont Central School District is fortunate to have substantial ties to the communities of the Town of Rotterdam, Town of Duanesburg, Schenectady County and Albany County. If there were to be an emergency within our facility, that facility would call 911 for emergency assistance.

If involvement is needed from other local government agencies, then the Superintendent or designee would act as that contact person. Additional procedures for communications can be found in the Building-level Emergency Response Plans, including local emergency contacts and phone numbers, and the NYS/BOCES Communication Flow Chart. These contacts provide guidance for obtaining assistance during emergencies from emergency services organizations and local government. The following examples are the types of arrangements that could be used by the district:

  • In an emergency, the Principal, Superintendent, or designee contacts the county dispatch center for fire, EMS, or police by calling 911.
  • The Principal, Superintendent, or designee contacts the highest-ranking local government official for notification and assistance.
  • The Principal, Special Education Communications Liaison or designee contacts the parents/guardians of students schooled outside of the district whenever district transportation involves the transport of students with special needs. The Special Education Communications Liaison communicates with the other districts and BOCES that house our out-of-district students, and a communications plan is in place to support clear communications with parents/guardians during an incident or emergency.
  • Arrangements for obtaining advice and assistance from local government officials, including the county or city officials responsible for the implementation of Article 2-B of the Executive Law, are carried out through the protocols established in the NYS/BOCES Communication Flow Chart. The following are examples of the types of arrangements that could be used by the district during county-wide emergencies:
    • In an emergency, the Superintendent or designee contacts the Schenectady County Emergency Management Coordinator and/or the highest-ranking local government official for obtaining advice and assistance.
    • The district has identified resources for an emergency from the following agencies: Rotterdam Police Department, County Civil Defense Office, American Red Cross, Schenectady County Emergency Services Office, New York State Police, Schenectady County Sheriff, Schenectady County Mental Health Office and the Capital Region Health/Safety/Risk Management Office.
    • If the emergency is within the school district boundaries and has the potential to impact the surrounding community, the Superintendent or designee notifies the following appropriate town officials as needed: Town/County Agencies of Rotterdam, Duanesburg, and Schenectady. Likewise, should there be an emergency within the community that has the potential to impact the school, the Superintendent should be notified immediately.

If there is a disaster within the district that has the potential to impact other educational agencies within the district boundaries, the Chief Emergency Officer activates a phone tree to inform all necessary parties. The phone tree is located in the Building-level Emergency Response Plans.

Along with the phone tree, the district also maintains the following information about each educational agency located in the confidential, Building-level Emergency Response Plans:

  • School population
  • Number of staff
  • Transportation needs
  • Business and home telephone numbers of key officials of each such educational agency

Section V: Prevention and Intervention Services

The District-wide School Safety Plan provides the framework for the Building-Level Emergency Response Plans.

The district has developed policies and procedures related to school building security, including, where appropriate: visitor sign-in and badge procedures, hall monitors, the use of security personnel, security devices and procedures, school resource officer, bus surveillance cameras, building surveillance cameras, random locker searches and motion detectors in sensitive areas.

The Schalmont Central School District has implemented procedures for the dissemination of informative materials regarding the early detection of potentially violent behaviors, including, but not limited to: the identification of family, community and environmental factors to teachers, administrators, parents and other persons in parental relation to students of the school district or board, students and other persons deemed appropriate to receive such information. The district has and continues to participate in programs such as Banana Splits, Informal P.I.N.’s, P.I.N’s Diversion Program, P.I.N.’s abduction prevention training, suicide threat assessment, child abuse and prevention workshops, programs designed to inform staff on how to identify potentially violent behaviors and other risk factors. The district additionally employs many school psychologists, counselors, special education staff, social workers, a school resource officer, and school health teachers who are instrumental in assisting the district in identifying early warning signs in students, early intervention/prevention strategies, and the development of violence prevention instruction for staff.

Appropriate prevention and intervention strategies, such as:

  • Collaborative agreements with state and local law enforcement officials designed to ensure that school safety officers and other security personnel are adequately trained including being trained to de-escalate potentially violent situations.
  • Non-violent conflict resolution training programs.
  • Special formal P.I.N.’s educational placement.
  • Alternative Education Program.
  • Collaboration with the County Probation Department.

The district has created and supported strategies for improving communication among students and between students and staff and reporting of potentially violent incidents, such as the establishment of:

  • Youth-run Programs (i.e., SADD and No Place For Hate).
  • Anecdotal records of student behavior.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Anonymous reporting mechanisms for school violence.
  • Educational assemblies addressing issues of self-esteem, decision-making, and other related issues.

The Schalmont Central School District has descriptions of duties, hiring and screening processes, and requirements for the training of hall monitors and other school safety personnel.

Section VI: Recovery

Recovery addresses the help needed for all involved to heal and to restore the school community to “normal” operations. The District Plan supports the school building plan by deploying district resources that support the school’s building-level emergency response team and the post-incident response team.

Recovery plans include mental health/emotional recovery, academic, physical and business recovery, and can continue long after the actual emergency. The District has social workers and school psychologists with resources and support systems. The District has the ability to coordinate with school, local, Schenectady County, and State disaster mental health services. The District’s role with mental health services includes looking at the school culture and climate, providing student access to services, and following threat assessment procedures.

District Support for Schalmont Central School District

The Building-level Emergency Response Plans provide resources for supporting the building-level emergency response team and post-incident response team. The district’s Incident Command System (ICS) identifies back-ups to relieve team members. This plan provides team members the opportunity to rotate personnel, to fill in if assigned personnel are unavailable, and to debrief in a supportive environment.

The district realizes that some emergencies may overwhelm an individual school’s ability to manage an extreme crisis. If/when the school is faced with an emergency such as threats of violence or actual violent incidents, the district-wide school safety team assists as follows:

  • Acting as a sounding board regarding the implied or direct threats and/or violent acts.
  • Assisting in determining the level of threat and appropriate response.
  • Monitoring the situation and adjusting the district’s response, as appropriate.
  • Assisting with parent/guardian, faculty/staff, and media communication.
  • Assisting with coordinating building and grounds security in conjunction with local and State Police.
  • Assisting with offering a backup post-incident response team (i.e., another school district’s team and/or an outside group) as needed, if needed.
  • Offering debriefing sessions, as needed, working in conjunction with local, Schenectady County and/or State emergency responders.
Disaster Mental Health Services

If/when a building-level emergency response team or post-incident response team is faced with an emergency that may overwhelm the school’s ability to manage an extreme crisis, the district-wide school safety team assists as follows:

  • Activating the district-wide post-incident response team. The district has school social workers, school psychologists, and school nurses who have local connections to:
    • Neighboring school districts
    • Schenectady County Department of Mental Health
  • Offering district support and looking for continued feedback from those directly impacted during the incident, with projected plans to assist, if needed, during heightened stressful times such as a re-occurrence of a similar event and anniversaries of the original event.
  • Assisting with parent/guardian, student, and faculty/staff debriefing and/or post-incident crisis intervention. The debriefing is also used in part to evaluate the district’s plan for possible revisions. If needed, assisting in contacting additional outside mental health resources such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance (1-800-try-nova; www.try-nova.org ).
  • Assisting the schools with written statements going out to faculty/staff, parents/guardians, press releases, and media requests through the district’s Public Information Officer.

The district supports the recovery phase and reevaluates current multi-hazard and violence prevention practices and school safety activities.

The following is a listing of all school buildings covered by the district-wide school safety plan:

  • Schalmont High School
  • Schalmont Middle School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
Identification of Potential Hazardous Sites
  • COMMUNITY-BASED LIST: A list of areas have been identified as having the potential to impact within the district. This list was created for reference and awareness. It is not all-inclusive for every emergency. However, these areas have been identified as having the most probable impact on district facilities or district boundaries should they have or create an emergency. A list of potential community-based hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plans.
  • SCHOOL-BASED LIST: The district team has recognized that there are many factors that could cause an emergency within our school building. There are also factors that need to be considered when responding to an emergency. A list of potential internal and external hazards or emergency situations has been noted in the building-level emergency response plans.