View the superintendent’s letter about school safety and security

Dear Goshen families and community,

The horrifying news of last week’s tragic shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, still weighs heavily on our hearts. When a senseless tragedy such as this occurs, it’s common for many of us to feel frustrated, angry and scared for the safety of our own children.

I understand that many parents, students and community members may have increased concerns about safety in our schools. I’d like to reassure you that our students’ safety is – and always will be – the district’s number one priority. The district has taken a variety of safety precautions in its buildings, which include:

  • Our schools actively practice lockdown drills and lockout drills in case of an intruder or outside threat.
  • Teachers keep their classroom doors closed and locked during the school day.
  • A single point of entry is required for our schools. Students, staff and visitors must enter and exit through the front doors/greeter stations only.
  • School entrances are locked during the school day and equipped with an access control device so that visitors must show identification before being “buzzed in.”
  • Visitors and non-district employees must show identification (driver’s license) before entering a building. Licenses are scanned and kept on file.
    Identification badges are provided and required for all school employees, visitors and substitutes.
  • Fingerprinting and background checks are completed for all prospective employees.
  • Building administrators are able to view video surveillance by connecting to the district’s security camera system over our local area network.
  • A uniformed police officer is on campus at Goshen High School.
  • Two retired police officers are employed as School Resource Officers.
  • The district works closely with the Goshen Police Department, who are often found visiting school grounds, to ensure the safety of our students.
  • The district encourages students and employees to practice “see something, say something” and notify proper authorities if they feel an individual may pose a threat. If anyone should ever have concerns about a potential threat, please immediately report those concerns to administrators or local law enforcement.

The district is also in the process of completing a number of safety upgrades in the near future. Both the Goshen Intermediate School and the Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School will receive an improved surveillance camera/buzzer/intercom lock system at their main entrances. Currently, a visitor must enter the school and approach its greeter station, where he or she must show identification in order to be buzzed into the building. The new system will add extra security by allowing the greeter to view visitors via surveillance camera and communicate with them via intercom – before they are able to enter the greeter station. The door to the greeter station will now be locked, and the visitor will have to scan their license before they can enter the greeter station, and then be buzzed into the building.

In addition, the capital improvement project, that will likely break ground this summer, includes a new security vestibule at the Goshen High School main entrance where visitors will be screened and “buzzed in” before gaining access to the building, as well as installing new landline telephones in every classroom district-wide.

But even with a number of security measures in place, and more on the horizon, the district realizes that there is always more that we can do to ensure our students’ safety. Since last week, I have met with building principals, department heads, Village of Goshen Police Chief James Watt and Mayor Kyle Roddey to discuss what we can do to make our schools safer.

Some measures that will take place immediately include:

  • Identifying blind spots to install extra security cameras in the buildings.
  • Having only one point of entrance to schools during before- and after-school programs and activities.
  • Rearming the schools’ external door alarms after dismissal.

The following safety measures are being discussed:

  • Increasing police presence in our four schools.
  • Wiring the district’s surveillance camera system so it is accessible by the police department.
  • Adding alarms to all external doors.
  • Updating our driver’s license scanning system to alert greeters to visitors’ criminal activities.
  • Conducting active shooter drills with the police department and faculty and staff.
  • Marking classroom floors with red tape so students know where to go during a lockdown.
  • Investing in classroom doors with more efficient locking systems that still meet fire code.
  • Conducting a security audit of all buildings via an outside vendor or police department.
  • Purchasing two-way walkie talkies for teachers with the help of PTOs.

For those who are interested, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office will host an active shooter presentation from 6-8 p.m. March 1 at Orange County Emergency Communications, 22 Wells Farm Road in Goshen. The presentation is free of charge to keep the public informed and prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event of an active shooter situation, at school, at work or in public. Please call 845-291-7698 for more information.

As superintendent of schools, I want to reassure you that the school district will make every attempt to increase security measures in our schools. It is our mission to keep our students and employees as safe as possible. We will continue to communicate with parents, employees and the community as we work toward this endeavor.

If you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at 615-6765 or Daniel.connor@gcsny.org.

Sincerely,
Daniel Connor
Superintendent of Schools