Dear Plainedge Parents, Guardians, Faculty and Staff:
Our community is both saddened and infuriated by yesterday’s horrific tragedy which took place at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The senseless loss of the lives of nineteen (19) students and two (2) faculty members is beyond disturbing. The number of active shootings that have occurred in schools across our nation is frightening.
As we reel from the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Texas, it is essential to review and reflect upon the importance of safety and security measures in place throughout our District. As a District, we recognize that all our successes begin with our students, parents, and faculty/staff being confident in the safety and security of our school buildings. In recent years, we have installed and implemented a number of proactive security measures at each of our buildings. We regularly review and revise our district and building level safety plans in accordance with New York State Project SAVE Legislation (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education). All schools participate in a minimum of four lockdown emergency drills each school year. These drills serve to prepare our students and teachers for an event we pray will never happen. They also ensure our internal systems as well as those we maintain in partnership with local law enforcement are maintained and updated. But we also know that we must remain vigilant in keeping our students and staff safe. We strive daily to improve our safety and security measures district-wide. To this end, District and building administrators met earlier today to review our practices related to drills, security measures, and any other factors that we need to consider and reinforce to maximize the safety and security of our buildings.
Our Director of Security, Thomas DeRespino, a retired lieutenant from the New York Police Department (NYPD), coordinates all Plainedge Public Schools security personnel training and is our liaison with Nassau County Police Department (NCPD). He is instrumental in coordinating and strengthening our already strong relationship with local police officials and officers, for whom we are grateful every day.
Upon learning of yesterday’s tragic events, we immediately communicated with NCPD Commissioner Ryder, local precincts, our POP Officers, and Homeland Security and requested a stronger presence in all schools today and over the coming weeks. On behalf of our community, I thank Commissioner Ryder and local commanding officers for such a strong response today. Law enforcement officers from the NCPD and Homeland Security have been in all schools regularly throughout the day.
We know that many of our students have seen reports on television or on social media related to the Uvalde, Texas tragedy. With this in mind, please know that we are closely monitoring our students and are sensitive to the wide-range of emotions they may be experiencing as a result of yesterday’s incident. If you believe your child is in need of individualized support, please do not hesitate to reach out to our highly trained mental health professionals, including our psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors.
It is critical that we continue as administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students, to be mindful of safety protocols, and that we share intelligence and concerns we may have related to anything that may threaten the safety and security of our schools.
As a community, the partnership between home and school is valued, respected and enhanced through communication and by sharing the responsibility for speaking with our youngsters about the type of incident that occurred in Uvalde, Texas, even as we adults struggle to understand how such a thing can happen and keep happening. We all have the potential to play a role in preventing these types of tragedies.
In an effort to support our families as they have these difficult discussions with our children, we are including two attachments for your review:
- Talking to Children about the Shooting – From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers – From the National Association of School Psychologists
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, teachers and students at the Robb Elementary School.
Flags on all buildings will be at half-staff in remembrance of those that lost their lives in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Thank you for your continued trust and support of the Plainedge Public Schools always.
Please download the complete letter below with tips on how to talk to your kids about this tragic event.
Edward A. Salina, Jr., Ed.D. - Superintendent of Schools
Catherine Flanagan – Board of Education President
Raymond Paris – Board of Education Vice President
Jennifer Maggio – Board of Education Trustee
Dr. Lynnda Nadien – Board of Education Trustee
Dr. Joseph Netto – Board of Education Trustee
Sonny Spagnuolo – Board of Education Trustee
Sisi Townson – Board of Education Trustee