In accordance with Ed Law 28-a, the following is a draft of the 2022-23 District-Wide Safety Plan available for public comment for 30 days. Members of the public can submit their comments to Dr. Maureen Long.
Section I: General Considerations and Planning Guidelines
Section II: Risk Reduction/Prevention and Intervention
Section III: Response
Section IV: Recovery
Appendix A: School Buildings Covered in the District-Wide Safety Plan
School districts are at risk of a wide variety of acts of violence, natural, and technological disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (a.k.a. Project SAVE) Law. The primary component of Project SAVE is a comprehensive planning effort that addresses risk reduction/prevention, response, and recovery with respect to a variety of emergencies in the school district and its schools. Districts are required to develop a District-Wide School Safety Plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents, state-declared disaster emergencies, locally-declared public health emergencies, and other 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 intended to be responsive to the needs of all schools within a district and is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level.
School safety is the job of the entire school community. This effort requires leadership and coordination by school administration, and involvement and participation from all sectors of the school community. Planning, conducting drills and participating in exercises with law enforcement, fire response, emergency officials and other members of the school community ensures a comprehensive, unified approach to the emergency response process. The Menands UFSD District-Wide Safety Plan was developed by the Menands School District Safety Team with guidance from the New York State Police.
The Menands Union Free School District supports the SAVE Legislation, and intends to continue its engagement in the planning process. The Superintendent of Schools encourages and advocates on-going district-wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.
The Menands Union Free District-wide School Safety Plan was developed pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17. At the direction of the Menands Union Free School District Board of Education, the Superintendent of Menands Union Free 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 Menands Union Free District designates the School Superintendent as the district’s chief emergency officer, whose duties shall include, but not be limited to:
- Coordination of the communication between school staff, law enforcement, and other first responders;
- 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;
- Ensure coordination of the District-Wide Plan with the building-level emergency response plan;
- Ensure staff understanding of the district–wide school safety plan;
- Ensure the completion and yearly update, by September 1st, of building-level emergency response plans for each school building;
- Assist in the selection of security-related technology and development of policies for the use of such technology;
- Coordinate appropriate safety, security, and emergency training for district and school staff, including required training in the emergency response plan annually, by September 15th;
- Ensure the completion of required evacuation and lock-down drills in all district buildings as required by Education Law section 807.
Identification of School Teams
The Menands Union Free School District has appointed a District-Wide School Safety Team consisting of, but not limited to, representatives of the School Board, teachers, administrators, school safety personnel, and other school personnel deemed essential to the overall safety and healthfulness of the school district. The members of the team and their positions or affiliations are as follows:
- School Board Representative
- Maintenance Supervisor
- School Principal
- School Secretary
- BOCES Health-Safety-Risk Coordinator
Concept of Operations
The concept of the Emergency Response Plan is to execute effective and timely decisions and actions that prevent harm, protect lives and property, mitigate damages, restore order and aid recovery. The District Safety Team, in addition to various agencies and services (including emergency responders from law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, mental health, and other community organizations) are involved in responding to incidents.
The District-Wide School Safety Plan is directly linked to the building-level emergency response plan. Protocols reflected in the District-Wide School Safety Plan guide the development and implementation of specific components of the building-level emergency response plan.
Plan Review and Public Comment
Pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation, Section 155.17 (e) (3), this plan will be made available for public comment at least 30 days prior to its adoption. The district-wide plan may be adopted by the School Board only after at least one public hearing that provides for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties. The plan must be formally adopted by the Board of Education.
While inherently linked to the District-Wide Safety Plan, the Building Level Emergency Response Plan shall remain confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law or any other provisions of law, in accordance with Education Law Section 2801-a.
Full copies of the District-wide School Safety Plan and any amendments will be submitted to the New York State Education Department within 30 days of adoption. The building level emergency response plans are supplied to the local police departments and the Albany County Operations of Emergency Management.
- Collaborative agreements with state and local law enforcement officials designed to ensure that school safety and security personnel are adequately trained, including being trained to de-escalate potentially violent situations.
- Non-violent conflict resolution training programs.
- Training on, and implementation of, the Dignity for All Students Act.
- Peer mediation strategies.
- Youth-run programs overseen by school staff.
- Creating a forum or designating a mentor for students concerned with bullying or violence.
Training, Drills and Exercises
- Annual training to ensure that school personnel and responders are aware of their responsibilities under the District Wide Emergency Response Plan.
- 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-hazard incidents.
- All staff will undergo annual training by September 15 on the building-level emergency response plan, which includes components on violence prevention and mental health. New employees hired after the start of the school year will 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 will certify that this training has been completed annually during the October NYSED BEDS data collection.
- Completion of 12 mandatory emergency response drills during the school year.
- Four of these drills are required to be lock-down drills.
- Eight are required to be evacuation drills (a.k.a., fire drills).
- Eight drills are to be completed by December 31 of each year.
Implementation of School Security
Policies and procedures are in place related to school building security, including, where appropriate:
- visitor sign-in and badge procedures
- employee badges
- physical security measures (door hardening, access restriction, etc.).
School district staff act as hall monitors and meet state certification requirements to do so.
Vital Educational Agency Information
The district maintains the following information located in the confidential Building-level Emergency Response Plan:
- School Population
- Number of staff
- Transportation needs
- Business and personal telephone numbers of key officials of pertinent educational agencies.
Early Detection of Potentially Violent Behaviors
The Menands Union Free School District has implemented procedures for the dissemination of informative materials regarding the early detection of potentially violent behaviors to teachers, administrators, parents, other persons in parental relation to students, students, and other persons deemed appropriate to receive such information, including, but not limited to the identification of family, community and environmental factors that may relate to or result in such behavior.
The district has and continues to participate in programs such as small group/individual counseling, suicide threat assessment, child abuse and prevention workshops, and programs designed to inform staff on how to identify potentially violent behaviors and other risk factors. The district additionally employs a school psychologist, counselor, special education staff, and a school health nurse 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.
The Building-Level Emergency Response Plan identifies hazards of environmental, health, safety and security for the students and faculty of the school. The plan contains resources and mitigation measures to decrease risk and provide appropriate responses.
Notification and Activation (Internal and External Communications)
The Menands Union Free School District is fortunate to have substantial ties to the community of Menands and to Albany County. If there were to be an emergency within our facility, the 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 Plan, 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:
- Superintendent (Incident Commander (IC) or backup IC) in an emergency would contact the county dispatch center for fire, EMS, or police by calling 911.
- Superintendent (IC or backup IC) contacts the highest-ranking local government official for notification and/or assistance.
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 (Superintendent) activates a phone tree to inform all necessary parties. The phone tree is located in the Building-level Emergency Response Plan.
The district uses a communication alert via electronic notification to contact parents, guardians, or persons in parental relation to the students in the event of a violent incident or an early dismissal. The district has an audit process to contact parents and guardians not utilizing the communication alert system.
The district has developed multi-hazard response guides. These guidelines are located in the Building-Level Emergency Response Plan and follow the 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 and ICS Activation
- Establishment of Command Post Location (Primary and Secondary)
- Shelter in Place:
- Severe Weather
- Bomb Threat
- Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Incident
- Hold in Place: Limits student/staff movement while dealing with short-term emergencies
- Minor facility incidents
- Medical Emergencies
- Evacuation: Used to evacuate students/staff from the school
- Before, during and after school hours, including security during evacuation and evacuation routes
- Lockout: Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that prose an imminent concern outside of the school
- Lockdown: Used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that prose an immediate threat of violence in or around the school
- School Cancellation
- Early Dismissal
Emergencies which constitute a multi-hazard response may include, but are not limited to:
- Air Pollution
- Aviation Crash
- Bldg. Structural Failure
- Bomb Threat
- Civil Disturbance
- Crimes Against People
- Elec. System Failure
- Energy Supply Loss
- Fire Alarm Activation
- Heating System Failure
- Hostage Situation
- Intruder Situation
- Loss of Building
- Loss of Buses
- Mass Casualty
- Medical Emergency
- Natural Gas Leak
- Roof Leak/Failure
- School Bus Accident
- Severe Weather Emergency
- Threats of Violence
- Water Emergency
Responses to Acts of Violence
The school district refers to their Crisis Intervention Plans and the Multi-Hazard Emergency Response Guides located in the Building-Level Emergency Response Plans to respond 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. These documents are reviewed by the district-wide school safety team to ensure content and consistency throughout the district. 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 Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and Suicide Preventions.
- 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.
- Contacting 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.
NOTE: The District Code of Conduct also describes policies and procedures for responding to acts of violence by students, teachers, other school personnel and visitors to the school.
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 Menands Union Free 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. If needed, as needed, meetings are scheduled in a timely manner for further discussion.
- For any major incident, the district works with the media along with our School News Notifier, District Website, Social Media, emails, and using the school notification system, to relay pertinent school-related information (i.e., how and where can parents be reunited with children, etc.) It is unfortunate, but important to remember that major emergencies can quickly tie up phone lines with incoming and outgoing calls and that roads can be quickly blocked by the traffic of emergency vehicles, 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. Meetings are scheduled in a timely manner, if needed, with the Crisis Intervention Team.
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 a school counselor and a school psychologist and support systems. The District has the ability to coordinate with school, local, Albany 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
Direct Support for the Menands Union Free School District
The Building-level Emergency Response Plan provides 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 act in place of team members in cases of absences.
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.
- Offering debriefing sessions as needed working in conjunction with local, Albany 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 a school psychologist, one counselor and one school nurse who have access to the following resources:
- Neighboring school districts
- Albany 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 to faculty/staff, parents/guardians, press releases, and media requests through the district’s Public Information Officer.
School Buildings covered in the District-Wide Safety Plan
- Building: Menands School (pre-K to 8)
- Address: 19 Wards Lane, Menands, NY 12204
- Contact/Title: Jennifer Cannavo, Principal
- Phone: 518-465-4561 ext. 119