View questions, answers from community school safety meeting

The Goshen Central School District held a school safety meeting for district parents and community members on Tuesday, March 6 in the Board of Education Room at the Main Street Building.

The majority of the meeting was spent answering community members’ questions and listening to feedback and suggestions. A summary of these questions and comments are listed below.

If you have a question about school safety, please email Public Information Specialist Christina Gore at christina.gore@gcsny.org. Answers will be provided within 5 business days.

Are there plans to handle children in crisis?

Faculty and staff members bring any issues to the RTI committee. A meeting is held with parents. Recommendations for outside therapy and counseling are made. In addition to making referrals to the RTI Committee, the district has social workers and psychologists available to provide support to students as situations arise. When the team is unified, they have great success in helping children in crisis.

If necessary, the district will call 911. Otherwise, parents are consulted and a plan is put in place for a modified schedule such as evening high school.

Do the schools do anything to welcome new students?

New students are encouraged to join clubs and activities to help make new friends. There is a Buddy Program for new students where they are partnered with a classmate for a few weeks to help them acclimate to the school. The Freshmen BBQ also includes new students to the high school

How is the district proactive with anti-bullying?

The district has a plan for emergency response protocols. There are numerous character education programs, such as Responsive Classroom, Buddy Bench, Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS), Peaceful Playground, school and PTO sponsored activities, Rachel’s Challenge, Peer Mediation, Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club, and Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) activities and assemblies. The Middle and High Schools are slated to bring in the Safe School Ambassador Program through the Orange County Mental Health Department.

Does the district face limitations since most students are minors?

By law, the district must keep children in school even if outside counseling is refused by parents/guardians.

If a child is in crisis, and it’s known that there are guns at home, are schools permitted to ask about it?

If it appears that a child is in crisis or a household is in jeopardy, the district can contact Office Smoulcey to perform a wellness check. The district will also contact Child Protective Services regarding a family in crisis.

How does the district handle returning students who were expelled for disciplinary issues?

There is a transition period for these students with counseling services and meetings with parents. They are provided with support and are monitored. Faculty and staff will report any “red flags” so that they can be addressed.

How do you handle an individual student who may cause problems versus the safety of the masses?

A child can be removed, if necessary, from the regular classroom to attend Evening High School. It depends on their performance and is through building principal recommendation. The student can write a letter of appeal to the superintendent if he/she feels that they are ready to come back to regular school. Some infractions may lead to a student’s suspension and a disciplinary hearing as per the District’s Code of Conduct.

Does the district communicate with county resources for mental health?

The district has been in touch with the county to discuss the lack of mental health resources available in the area. Some students are forced to wait for help and this is something that must be improved. The district will utilize Mobile Mental Health as needed, with parental consent, pending communication between school staff and outside thearapists.

How does the district use video cameras in its schools?

Goshen has multiple cameras and surveillance in all its buildings that can be viewed by any administrator. Goshen is also the pilot district in the county for having all of its school cameras hooked up to the 911 call center so that they can see our surveillance firsthand. The Village Police Department already has this capability.

What plans are there to help alleviate the heat during the summer months when the doors and windows are shut?

If the temperature is too high, students can be sent home early so that they are not in a hot classroom. Students can also be moved to different locations, if necessary.

Are there security sweeps at the schools for anyone who may be hiding?

The custodians open the buildings at 6 a.m. and check the buildings at that time.

Are magnetometers coming back to school?

There are no plans at this time. The district will look into it.

It’s great that a consultant will conduct security report of the buildings. Will this be made public?

No. It’s not a good idea to share this kind of information with the public. The district will use this report to help strengthen any weak areas in terms of school security.

In Florida, a fire alarm was pulled by the shooter to lure students into the hallways. Is there a separate alarm that we can use to notify teachers that it’s an intruder, not a fire?

There is a blue light flashing alarm that is available. The district will look into it.

Who is the ultimate decision maker in case of an emergency?

Each building has an emergency plan. The building administrator is in charge of this plan.

Will the police officers be in schools next year?

The police officers will be in our four schools through the end of the school year, and the district plans to have them next year as well.

What is the process to report an issue?

Students and faculty can report an issue or incident to the building principal or teacher. There is also a DASA reporting form on the district website.

Can you get air conditioning on the main floors?

This is a huge expense as well as a huge demand on the electrical system of old buildings.

Suggestions/concerns from the community:

  • More staff dealing with kids in crisis are needed, such as psychologists, social workers and counselors
  • Teach kids different coping mechanisms so they can deal with crises before it gets out of hand
  • Encourage “see something, say something” especially with social media
  • Create a better system of communication between the buildings
  • Supply parents with updates about apps and social media to help parents “patrol” online
  • More mental health resources are needed in-district and in the county
  • Have student/teacher greeters each morning and afternoon to shake hands with each kid – help build camaraderie in the schools – help “loners” feel more welcome
  • Better security measures for before- and after-school programs are needed
  • Place boulders around open playgrounds to prevent cars from coming onto the field and hurting children
  • Provide door stoppers for each classroom door to help prevent someone from entering
  •  Approach Legoland for cash to help fund these needs
  • Create more school culture initiatives such as Mix It Up Day in the cafeteria where students sit at different lunch tables
  • Provide a list of non-district activities such as scouts, gymnastics, etc. for new students/families
  • Provide support to parents to help them help their child to be friendly and welcoming to new students or students who don’t have friends; teach them to be an upstander instead of a bystander