Dear Newark Community,
The Newark School District is getting close to completing our athletic field area at the High School and Middle School. As this progresses, it is looking very nice but it is still not safe for us to go beyond the fences that enclose the area. There are many safety concerns that could injure a person if they are not careful as well as damage the work that is being done.
We ask all of our community not to go beyond the fences that surround the area for safety reasons.
Thank you for helping to ensure that our athletic areas will be the best in the area and the safety of our community members is not at risk.
I wanted to give everyone an update as to our safety and security staffing as we move into the 2018-19 school year. For the last several years, we have had a retired police officer, Jay Flock, serve as our Coordinator of Student Affairs. This was a position that initially began with the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) but morphed into a safety and security role over the last few years. Mr. Flock resigned from the Coordinator position in June but we have contracted with a security company that he works for to provide additional support for at least the first half of this school year. We are entering into a contract with Swoop 1, Inc. and Mr. Flock will be part-time as our Director of Security. In addition, we will be adding a full-time security personnel as the school year starts. This may be one full-time person or two half-time people to provide more flexibility of scheduling. The details are still being finalized. Swoop 1 came highly recommended by some of my colleagues who use them in the same way in Monroe County and they have been very responsive to work with over the summer.
After discussions with the Newark PD and the Sheriff's Office, neither of those agencies are in a position to be able to supply us with a School Resource Officer (SRO) to start the school year. We will spend the first semester of school working with Swoop 1 and assessing that service, while I continue discussing the possibilities of having the SRO service in Newark for the start of 2019. It’s possible that our safety and security needs are met through this contract with Swoop 1 and there will be no need to pursue the SRO model. It is also possible that we will want to use the SRO model. I am committed to exploring all the options available to us to make the best recommendation to the Board of Education.
In addition to the new personnel, I want to let you know that we have spent a good part of the summer updating safety plans and we had our administrative team undergo a table top drill with the County Emergency Preparedness unit. This training was very valuable and our District Safety Committee will meet this fall to make recommendations regarding additional staff training. Also this summer, I met with the other Wayne County Superintendents, Sheriff Virts, Chief Christler and Captain Gallivan from the NYS Troopers to discuss safety drills and response plans. I was assured by how closely these three law enforcement agencies work together and by the closest car concept that they deploy in Wayne County. In other words, they do not let turf or jurisdiction get in the way of having the closest car respond to a major event like a school shooting. Given the Newark PD, Sheriff's and State Troopers vehicles are all throughout our district, I was assured we would probably have the fastest response time in the county, should the worst-case scenario ever happen in Newark.
Having said that, prevention is still the best defense against this kind of event and the willingness of our teachers, counseling staff and administration to work closely with law enforcement continues to be a strength in our school community. We are looking forward to a great 2018-19 school year and while we all hope that we never have to respond to a serious incident in our schools, we are well aware that no place in our society is immune and so preparation and vigilance remains a high priority.