Table of Contents
- Prevention/Intervention Strategies
- Early Detection of Potentially Violent Behaviors
- Hazard Identification
- Notification and Activation (Internal and External Communications)
- Situational Responses – Multi-Hazard Response and Response Protocols
Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17 Project I4
Emergencies and violent incidents in school districts are critical issues that must be addressed in an expeditious and effective manner. Districts are required to develop a district-wide school safety plan designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious, violent incidents and 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 responsive to the needs of all schools within the district and is consistent with the more detailed emergency response plans required at the school building level. Districts are at risk of a wide variety of acts of violence and natural and technological disasters. To address these threats, the State of New York has enacted the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) law. This 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.
The Cohoes City School District supports the SAVE legislation and intends to facilitate the planning process. The superintendent of schools encourages and advocates on-going district-wide cooperation and support of Project SAVE.
The Cohoes City School District-Wide School Safety Plan was developed pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 155.17. At the direction of the Cohoes City School District Board of Education, the superintendent appointed a District-wide School Safety Team and charged it with the development and maintenance of the district-wide school safety plan.
Cohoes City School District has appointed a District-wide School Safety Team consisting of, but not limited to, representatives of the School Board, students, teachers, administrators, parent organizations, school safety personnel and other school personnel. The members of the team and their positions or affiliations are as follows:
- Dr. Jennifer Spring – Superintendent
- Peggy O’Shea – Assistant Superintendent
- Stacy Mackey – School Business Official
- Erin Hill – Director of Special Programs
- Jim Stapleton – Director of Facilities
- Bryan Wood – High School Principal
- Laura Tarlo – High School Assistant Principal
- Thomas Kostrzebski – High School Assistant Principal
- Daniel Martinelli – Middle School Principal
- Deanna Kelly – Middle School Assistant Principal
- Mark Perry – Harmony Hill Principal
- Clifford Bird – Abram Lansing Principal
- Jacqueline DeChiaro – Van Schaick Principal
- Megan Beauchamp – Cohoes High School Counselor
- Maggie Russom – Cohoes High School Psychologist
- Drew Rentz – School Safety Officer
- Amanda Dorr – Van Schaick Teacher
- Tina Kellar – Abram Lansing Teacher
- Kate Lamica – Harmony Hill Teacher
- Lisa LeBlanc – Harmony Hill School Nurse
- Kelly Tessier – Cohoes Middle School Receptionist
- Jennifer Kendrick – Parent
- Margaret Giller – Board of Education
- Helen Annely – Board of Education
- Jeremy McDonald – Board of Education
- Shawn Morse – Mayor of Cohoes
- William Heslin – Police Chief
- Joseph Fahd – Fire Chief
- Michael Needham – Safety Consultant
The District-Wide Safety Team developed the District-Wide School Safety Plan with input from appropriate school employees.
The Chief Emergency Officer shall act as the liaison between the District and external agencies during time of emergencies as well as during plan development and maintenance. The Chief Emergency Officer for the Cohoes City School District is Dr. Jennifer Spring.
Concept of Operations
The District-Wide School Safety Plan is directly linked to the individual Building level Emergency Response Plans as a matter of protocol. The activation of the Building-level Emergency Response Plan triggers the notification of the chain of command and the assessment of the activation of the District-Wide Emergency School Safety Plan and District-Wide Response Team.
The District-Wide Plan was developed through extensive analysis of the local environment, emergency potential, and available resources. Through training and workshops that included school employees, administration, and local emergency services, workshops that included school employees, administration, and local emergency services, the plan has been developed to address the specific needs of the Cohoes City School District and the community.
In the event of an emergency or violent incident, the initial response to all emergencies at an individual school will be by the School Emergency Response Team. The Building Principal is responsible for notifying the Superintendent or the highest-ranking person in the chain of command of any necessary Building-level plan activation. This notification shall be accomplished through the use of telephone or the district’s radio network.
Upon the activation of the School Emergency Response Team, the superintendent of schools or his/her designee shall be notified and, where appropriate, local emergency officials shall also be notified.
County and state resources supplement the school districts emergency action planning in a number of ways:
- State and local law enforcement provide building reviews and employee training.
- Local law enforcement and emergency services participate in planning and training exercises and develop strategies for managing building-level emergencies.
- A protocol exists for the school district to use certain facilities for sheltering during times of emergencies.
- A protocol exists for the use of county mental health resources during post-incident response.
Pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation, Section 155.17(e)(3), a draft plan will be made available for public comment at least 30 days prior to its adoption. The School Board shall adopt the District-Wide Plan only after one public hearing that provides for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties. The plan shall be formally adopted by the Board of Education.
Full copies of the District-Wide School Safety Plan and any amendments shall be submitted to the New York State Education Department within 45 days of adoption.
This plan shall be reviewed periodically during the year and maintained by the District-Wide School Safety Team.
The district has developed a number of programs and activities to aid in risk reduction. These initiatives are run at different age groups within the district.
- Character Education Programming (PreK-I2)
- PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Support) Program (PreK-I2)
- Trauma Sensitive Practices (PreK-12)
- Conflict resolution utilizing trained social workers (K-12)
- District Code of Conduct (K-12)
- Staff attends annual training pertaining to violence prevention (PreK-I2)
- Crisis response/intervention plan (PreK-I2)
- Student Council (K-12)
- Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
- “Top Tiger” Program – positive behavior reinforcement at Van Schaick
- “Apple a Day” at all elementary schools
- “Tiger Awards” Program for positive behavior at the Middle School
- Northern Rivers Behavioral Health Center
- Berkshire Farm “Home Run” Program at the Middle School
- All student in the Middle and High Schools are appointed a guidance counselor to assist with at-home and/or in-school concerns
- PAGE Program at the High School
- Student-teacher mentoring program at the High School
- 9th Grade Academy
- Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) at the High School
- Summer School (9-12)
- “Every Minute Matters” Campaign (K-12)
- Restorative Justice (9-12)
- Parent Engagement Specialist – Elementary and Middle School
The district has attempted to enhance the security of its facilities through a number of initiatives, including the following:
- The school district has developed a parent/visitor sign-in procedure and requires the use of visitor ID badges with visual contact
- District Staff use faculty/staff ID badges
- The district has developed a single point of access for visitors at each building, with buzzer access
- Building security cameras have been installed
- The school has implemented classroom emergency procedures
- There are School Safety Officers at the High School and a security guard at the Middle School
Training, Drills, and Exercises
- The district has established policies and procedures for annual multi-hazard school safety training for employees and students. Training includes:
- An annual review of the Building-level emergency guides and general employee awareness training for building employees conducted by each principal
- The annual “go home early” drill to test evacuation and sheltering procedures
- Each school building conducts fire drills throughout the course of the year in compliance with the State Education Dept. schedule for the purpose of familiarizing employees and students with emergency procedures
- A building-level, tabletop exercise run in cooperation with members of local emergency service
- The district shall conduct drills and other exercises to test and evaluate the effectiveness of the district emergency response plan. Each building principal will forward a schedule of planned emergency drills and fire drills to the Superintendent by the beginning of each school year. Each principal will be required to complete a minimum number of students drills as follows:
- Four Lockdown drills and eight fire/evacuation drills. Eight of which must be conducted by December 31 of each year. The balance must be conducted during the remainder of the school year.
- The district shall conduct tabletop exercises with the building-level safety teams to test the components of the emergency response plan. The narratives, sequence of events and messaging for each exercise shall be developed by select members of the District-Wide Safety Team, Emergency Management consultants and local emergency services. A controller, evaluator and simulator shall conduct each tabletop exercise. The suggestions and necessary enhancements of the building-level plan noted during the evaluation shall be documented by the evaluator and provided to the building-level Safety Team and District-Wide Safety Team for further evaluation.
- Topics for training will include general security and safety measures, intervention strategies with difficult or challenging students, building security awareness, and reporting requirements and procedures.
In the execution of their duties, faculty, aides and monitors shall have responsibility for:
- Monitoring halls, lavatories, locker rooms, locker bays and similar areas, assuring orderly passage of students and pre-emptive intervention in potentially disruptive situations.
- Observation of the general property, including the immediate outside perimeter of the building(s), with an obligation to report suspicious activity to district or building administration.
- Overseeing study halls, cafeterias, or other areas of student assemblage with the goal of assisting to maintain an orderly, safe environment.
School Safety Personnel
School Safety personnel have a critical role in violence prevention. The following represents a description of the responsibilities of school safety personnel in the district:
The building principal or his/her designee shall serve as the School Safety Representative for the school building. The responsibilities of the School Safety Representative are as follows:
- Monitor hallways, entrance ways, exits and outside grounds during school hours for unusual occurrences or unauthorized visitors
- Act as building liaison in communicating building level safety issues or concerns
- Represent the building on the District-Wide Health and Safety Committees
- Attend school safety meetings and be a resource on school safety and security issues for building employees
- Serve on the building level, School Building Response Team
- Develop plans and strategies for building security, crime and violence prevention, safety planning and employee training
- Participate in school incident investigations
- Respond to all school emergencies as part of the building’s Emergency Response Plan
- Coordinate annual school safety multi-hazard training for students and employees. Multi-hazard training shall include crisis intervention, emergency response and management
- Employees and students shall receive annual training and drill practice on protocols for bomb threats, evacuation, sheltering, lock-down, relocate to hallway, fire emergency, bus drills, and appropriate violence prevention strategies
- Designate procedure for informing substitute teaching and non-teaching employees of school safety protocols
- Comply and encourage compliance with all school safety and security policies and procedures established by the Board of Education
- Attend professional development activities on school safety and violence prevention
All school safety personnel shall be provided with training on violence prevention and school safety. All training courses shall receive prior approval from the superintendent.
Hiring and Screening of School Personnel
The following hiring and screening practices are followed for the hiring of all personnel:
Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Checks:
For all employees hired by the school district, the district completes a fingerprinting and criminal background check prior to appointment. No employee works in the district until fingerprint clearance is received. Employees include:
- Any person receiving compensation for work from the school district
- Any employee of a contracted service provider involved in direct student contact
- Any worker assigned to a school under a public assistance employment program (includes part-time employees and substitutes)
References are thoroughly checked prior to extending an employment offer.
- Reference check forms are used for instructional, non-instructional and transportation personnel
- Reference checks are completed and reviewed by the administrative team along with the application
- Prior to making a job offer to a prospective employee, the following mandatory questions are asked during reference checks with immediate and/or past supervisors:
- Do you have knowledge of any violations of safety or security by (prospective employee) related to students, employees or others?
- Why did (prospective employee) leave your employment? Or, do you know why (prospective employee) is leaving your employment?
- Would you rehire (prospective employee)? If no, why not?
The district has implemented policies and procedures related to the early detection of potentially violent behaviors. Each building principal is responsible for the dissemination of informative materials regarding the early detection of potentially violent behaviors to employees and parents each school year. In addition, employees shall receive training on the district’s Code of Conduct and awareness training on violent behaviors, to be conducted or coordinated by the superintendent.
The following sites have the potential for internal or external emergency situations:
Cohoes High School, 105 employees, 564 students, 13 buses
Cohoes Middle School, 72 employees, 408 students, 9 buses
Administrative Center, 15 employees, 0 students, 1 bus
Van Schaick, 51 employees, 211 students, 5 buses
Harmony Hill, 74 employees, 391 students, 9 buses
Abram Lansing, 65 employees, 474 students, 11 buses
The buildings and grounds associated with each of these facilities have the potential for a district or building-level emergency or incident.
The following facilities and natural hazards that are proximate to the Cohoes City School District have been identified as having a potential for presenting emergencies that could affect the district:
- CSX Railroad
- Hudson River
- Norlite Corporation
- Route I-787
- Union Carbide (Waterford)
- Mohawk Paper
- Soft-Tex Manufacturing
In cases of serious violent incident, the district would use the procedure listed below to meet the requirements for notification and activation. A serious violent incident is an incident of violent criminal conduct that is or appears to be, life threatening and warrants the evacuation of students and employees because of an imminent threat to their safety or health, this includes but is not limited to; the use or threatened use of a firearm, explosive, bomb, incendiary device, chemical, or biological weapon, knife or ‘ other dangerous instrument capable of causing death or serious injury; riot; hostage-taking or kidnapping.
Communications systems are:
Teachers and building employees – public address system
Students – Public address system and verbally from teachers
Superintendent – Phone by principal’s secretary
Buildings and grounds – Phone or radio by principal’s secretary
Board of Education – Phone or e-mail
State police/Cohoes police – 911
Fire Dept. – 911
Parents – district website, Blackboard Connect, School News Notifier
News media – Superintendent or designee, Spectrum news, Troy Record, Times Union, WFLY, WGNA, WNYT, WRGB, WRVE, WTEN, WYJB, WXXA
The Superintendent of Schools would be responsible for conveying emergency information to educational facilities within the Cohoes City School District. The Superintendent would take appropriate steps to secure the following information about each educational agency within the district: number of students, number of employees, transportation requirements associated with the evacuation of each facility; and the business and home telephone numbers of key officials of each agency. Such information would be updated at least annually by the Superintendent. Each such agency would report material changes to such data to the Superintendent of Schools, in writing, within seven (7) days of such change.
Currently there are no non-public schools within the Cohoes City School District.
Information will be provided to parents, guardians or persons in parental relation to the students in the event of a violent incident or an early dismissal through the use of telephone by employees at the building level using the student/parent directory and/or local and regional radio and TV stations. These are the same stations that are used to announce official school delays or closings. This information is provided to parents through the School District website and building handbooks. Additionally, if an event occurs at the school district where students cannot be released immediately, a parent/community public information center may be established at:
Cohoes Senior Center, 10 Cayuga Plaza, Cohoes
In the event that this public information center is established, parents and community members are not to report to the school district where a building may be in crisis, but rather gather at the Cohoes Senior Center where regular public information statements will be made by the Superintendent or designee.
Staff cooperation is critical when an act of violence occurs. In the event of a criminal act, bomb threat, civil disturbance, intrusion, hostage-taking, kidnapping or other threatening event, staff response may include:
- Verbal instructions to cease the behavior
- Call for assistance from other staff
- Verbal instructions to follow classroom emergency procedures based on the main office’s instruction over the public address system
- Call law enforcement and other necessary emergency response agencies
- Removal of any onlookers that could aggravate the situation
- Not invading the space of the individual(s) involved
- Removal of any potentially dangerous weapons or objects
- Physical restraint if other actions do not stop the violence
In the event of a violent incident, the following policies and procedures are to be followed at the district level:
- The superintendent will ensure the building-level team has adequate resources to respond to the emergency
- The superintendent will develop a public information strategy to communicate necessary information to the media, parents and staff
- The District Office will notify the assistant superintendent, who is the leader of the district’s Crisis Intervention Team of the event
- The superintendent will notify appropriate Board of Education members of the incident
- The superintendent will notify the BOCES District Superintendent that the school’s emergency plan has been activated and file any necessary information with the State Education Department (for example, school bomb threat data cards)
In the event of a violent incident, the following policies and procedures are to be followed at the school building level:
- Student reports an incident to an adult or adult observes an incident
- Adult takes appropriate action as necessary to respond to the incident
- A written referral is forwarded to the building principal
- School guidance counselor, social worker and nurse are involved when necessary
- Building principal will conference with the student(s) involved to determine the problems/issues
- If parental notification is necessary, building principal will contact the parent(s) and may arrange a parent conference
- Appropriate discipline will be administered following the District Code of Conduct and incident reported to the State Education Department when appropriate
Follow-up of the violent incident should include:
- Investigation of the incident by building principal and law enforcement, as necessary
- Preparation of written accounts of the incident by all involved
- Review of written accounts by the building principal for any disparities
- Appropriate disciplinary action according to the code of conduct
- Review of the entire incident by administration for future planning:
- What happened?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
- How did it happen?
- How many individuals were involved?
- Are the individuals associated with a group?
- How could the incident have been prevented?
- What warning signs were missed?
- What can we do to prevent a future incident?
Counseling or other needed support for the victim(s), other students and staff involved in the incident.
Necessary reporting and parental notification.
Each school’s building-level plan lists building specific response actions to criminal acts, bomb threats, civil disturbance, intrusion, hostage-taking, kidnapping, as well as technological and natural disasters.
The Cohoes City School District has a comprehensive multi-hazard Emergency Response Plan. Such plan is updated annually. Copies of the plan are available in each Principal’s Office as well as in the Superintendent’s Office and the Business Office. Elements of the plan include:
- Chain of Command
- Other Relevant Parties
- Emergency Planning Committee
- Emergency Telephone Numbers
- Telephone Tree
- First Aid List
- Fleet List
- A list of hazardous incidents and a response plan for each (e.g. bomb threat, hostage, intruder, natural disaster, structural failure, et. al.)
Chain of Command
Dr. Jennifer Spring, Superintendent
Peggy O’Shea, Assistant Superintendent
Stacy Mackey, School Business Official
Bryan Wood, High School Principal
Dan Martinelli, Middle School Principal
Erin Hill, Director of Special Programs
Arrangements for Obtaining Emergency Assistance from Local Government
The School’s Administration shall use the following process in making arrangements for obtaining assistance during emergencies from emergency services organizations and local government agencies:
- Superintendent/Designee in an emergency contacts dispatch point or 911 center for fire or EMS response
- Superintendent/Designee contacts highest-ranking local government official for notification and/or assistance
Procedures for Obtaining Advice and Assistance from Local Government Officials
The School’s Administration shall use the following protocol for obtaining advice and assistance from local government officials including the county or city officials responsible for implementation of Article 2-B of the Executive Law:
- Superintendent/Designee in an emergency will contact emergency management coordinator and/or the highest-ranking local government official for obtaining advice and assistance
- The district has identified resources for an emergency from the following agencies: (examples include the Red Cross, fire department, police, private industry, private individuals, religious organizations and others)
District Resources Available for Use in an Emergency
The Cohoes City School District has created a comprehensive list of resources available during an emergency, including fuel sources, communications, food service capability, maintenance vehicle lists, and medical supplies and AED, CPR and First Aid trained staff. Specific information in each of these categories is contained in the building-level plans.
Procedures to Coordinate the Use of School District Resources and Manpower during Emergencies
The district shall use the following procedure to coordinate the use of school district resources and manpower during emergencies:
- The Building Principal of the affected facility shall contact the Superintendent or the District-wide Safety Team and request the necessary manpower or resources
- The Superintendent of Schools or the highest-ranking person in the chain of command shall assess the request and allocate personnel and resources as necessary
Protective Action Options
The Cohoes City School District shall follow the following protocols in assessing the appropriate protective action option. The decision to cancel school, to dismiss early, shelter in place or evacuate shall be made in cooperation with state and local emergency responders as appropriate.
- Monitor any situation that may warrant a school cancellation – Superintendent and district team
- Make determination – Superintendent
- Contact local media – Superintendent
- Monitor any situation that may warrant school delay – Building Administrators/Superintendent/District team
- If conditions warrant, delay opening of school
- Contact Transportation Supervisor to coordinate transportation issues
- Contact local media to inform parents of delayed opening
- Set up information center so that parents may make inquiries as to situation
- Provide for safety and security of employees and students who do come to school
- Monitor situation – Superintendent/District team
- If conditions warrant, close school – Superintendent
- Contact Transportation Supervisor to arrange transportation
- Contact local media to inform parents of early dismissal
- Set up an information center so that parents may make inquiries as to the situation
- Retain appropriate district personnel until all students have been returned home
Evacuation (before during and after school hours, including security during evacuation
and evacuation routes)
- Determine the level of threat – Superintendent
- Contact Transportation Supervisor to arrange transportation- Superintendent or Designee
- Clear all evacuation routes and sites prior to evacuation
- Evacuate all employees and students to pre-arranged evacuation sites
- Account for all student and employee population. Report any missing employees or Students to Building Principal
- Make determination regarding early dismissal – Superintendent or Designee
- If determination was made to dismiss early, contact local media to inform parents of early dismissal
- Ensure adult supervision or continued school supervision/security
- Set up an information center so that parents may make inquiries as to the situation
- Retain appropriate district personnel until all students have been returned home
Sheltering sites (internal and external)
- Determine the level of threat – Superintendent/Incident Commander /Designee
- Determine location of sheltering depending on nature of incident
- Account for all students and employees. Report any missing employees or student to designee
- Determine other occupants in the building
- Make appropriate arrangements for human needs
- Take appropriate safety precautions
- Establish a public information officer to provide information and current status to the situation to parents and other inquiring parties
- Retain appropriate district personnel until all students have been returned home
District Support for Buildings
The Cohoes City School District District-wide Team will support the Building-level Emergency Response Team and the Crisis/Post-Incident Response Teams in affected schools
Disaster Mental Health Services
The district office shall assist in the coordination of Disaster Mental Health Resources, in support of the Post-Incident Response Teams in the affected schools