The article below is a follow-up to the safety drill and check of Niskayuna High School on Wednesday, January 6. Scroll down for the initial letter to parents about the process.
As part of ongoing efforts to keep students safe, Niskayuna school leaders
this morning conducted a check of the high school with requested assistance from
the Niskayuna Police Department and New York State Police K-9 units.
Each hallway and locker area was checked as the school was in a lockdown drill. No illegal substances were detected in the school during the process, which took about 40 minutes total.
Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. sent an e-mail letter to parents as the drill began. He emphasized that it was not the result of any specific information suggesting the presence of any illegal items on campus.
"This was a precautionary measure, a valuable training experience for all involved, and an effort to show how serious we are about keeping dangerous items out of our school," Dr. Tangorra said. "Since coming to the district last spring, I have heard from many in our community who are concerned about drug and alcohol use among young people. Today was part of an ongoing partnership that is focused more broadly on keeping our students safe and promoting responsible decision-making."
Dr. Tangorra thanked students and staff for their patience and cooperation, and the Niskayuna Police Department for its assistance.
He said the district will share information about the check with its Safety Committee to debrief and identify potential improvements for future drills.
Keeping students safe and promoting positive decisions is a multi-pronged effort in Niskayuna. Drug and alcohol awareness are covered in health classrooms and in student programs. A federal Drug-Free Communities Grant received by the Niskayuna Community Action Program (N-CAP) has resulted in awareness activities throughout the community.
The district and the Niskayuna Police Department also enjoy a strong working partnership on a full range of safety issues.
"Any time we can help our schools ensure the safety of our children, we are willing and eager," said Niskayuna Chief of Police Dan McManus. The police department and school district have formed a strong relationship and any request for our resources to promote that safety is welcomed."
Dr. Tangorra emphasized that the vast majority of Niskayuna High School students do the right every day, which was confirmed Wednesday. "Niskayuna High School is a great place because of it," he said. "By working together as a community, we can make sure it stays that way."
Dear Niskayuna High School Parents:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of some activity taking place at the school this morning as part of our ongoing efforts to keep students safe.
We are conducting a check of the high school with requested assistance from the Niskayuna Police Department and New York State Police K-9 units. The school has initiated a lockdown drill to allow a walkthrough of each hallway and locker area. Our students are safe.
I want to emphasize that this is not the result of any specific information suggesting the presence of any illegal items, such as drugs or explosives, on campus. Rather, this is a precautionary measure, and an effort to show how serious we are about keeping them out of our school. This is also a valuable training experience for all involved.
Possession of drugs or explosives is a violation of the school Code of Conduct, and may also carry criminal consequences. Once this check is complete, we will post some follow-up information summarizing what, if anything, was found. We will also share information about the drill with our district Safety Committee to help inform future planning.
Since coming to the district last spring, many people have told me they are concerned about drug and alcohol use among young people. This issue is far from unique to Niskayuna. Yet, in our community, we must do everything we can to safeguard the well-being of our young people and keep these items out of our schools.
Student safety and promoting responsible decision making will continue to be a multi-pronged effort. In recent years, the high school has hosted evening programs on drugs and alcohol, in partnership with the Niskayuna Community Action Program (N-CAP). These topics are covered in our health classrooms and in safety programs that take place prior to our junior and senior celebrations in the spring.
School counselors, social workers, teachers and others also talk with students about these issues and are trained to be a resource for anyone in need of assistance. We also work to make sure students are well informed about the Code of Conduct.
In closing, I want to emphasize that the vast majority of students do the right thing every day, and Niskayuna High School is a great place because of it. More than anything, we want all students to know that we care greatly about their well-being and that the decisions they make today have a serious impact on their futures.
We appreciate your partnership in this effort.
Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., Ed.D.
Niskayuna Superintendent of Schools