Winter has wreaked havoc on our school days this year and getting to and from school has been a challenge! But school goes on no matter the weather because your child’s education is incredibly important, as is their safety.
Recently, we experienced a break-in at our high school. School was not in session and a collaboration of the IT and Security teams with local law enforcement brought the burglar to justice! Why do I bring this up? For a few reasons. One, we all must participate in our security envelope at the schools. Every staff member, student and visitor must recognize they have a part to play in ensuring a safe school environment. Is that adult walking in the hallway wearing their school-issued identification, either as staff or visitor? That is an easy way to identify those who should not be in the building.
Did you hear the fire or security drill notification? No? Did others immediately alert you that an event was in process or did you notify others so they might respond quickly? Last week, we conducted a complex drill in the Bergen: ASCS Middle School campus where a Lockdown was called. Students and staff alike responded FAST! Myself and the other security coordinators from all our schools as well as a Detective from Garfield Police watched and waited for mistakes. Then we pulled the FIRE ALARM to see if someone would evacuate (a common tactic to get people to reveal themselves from hiding); NO ONE MADE A SOUND OR MOVED! What an outstanding demonstration and proof that training is the key to safety and success. The staff and students did a remarkable job.
Back to the burglar that was apprehended recently. As I am wont to do often in incidents such as this, I look to make it a teachable moment. After all, we are an educational district! The 46 year old man who stole from our school has a heroin habit. Now that is not an excuse but it does point to the issues in our society. Drug abuse and addiction is a mental health issue and ones that require treatment. This person will be offered treatment in the jail- I know- I ran the jail in Bergen as Sheriff for six years. How does this affect you and your family? Drug abuse affects us all, whether it is as victims of crime, or in our own families. It can be stopped and it can be treated. But it takes communication and honesty. Do you know of students taking illegal drugs? Are you pressured into fitting in to what others are doing? If so, take a moment to think about that 46 year old man, sitting in the jail because he broke into our school to steal in order to get money to buy heroin! That same man was a student some years ago and I know he never thought he would end up in jail, but he did because he didn’t care enough about himself to reach out to his parents or his teachers and talk about what was bothering him. Illegal drug use is wrong, it’s illegal, and it will harm you in many ways. If you need help and want to talk to any one of the security team, they are experienced in dealing with these issues and will help you. Your teachers and administration are there to help. Your parents care about you. See, you have a lot going for you and success is in your grasp! Let’s work together to pave the way for your success!