A Message from Superintendent Pero: Safety and Security Update

The tragic school shooting in Oxford, Michigan has compelled me to provide a safety and security update. The safety and security of students is the single highest priority for the Pittsford Central School District. We describe school safety in terms of layers. The more layers that are in place, the deeper the District’s protection and safety. In accordance with that philosophy, Pittsford Central School District has a multi-faceted approach to safety with protocols, trainings and safety measures that work together to strengthen overall safety in our schools.

On an annual basis, the District reviews its comprehensive emergency response/preparedness plan and modifies it as necessary. This plan is the backbone of our safety and security programs and is specific for each building in the District.

Emergency Preparedness Training

As a school district, we are routinely training, updating and adding new procedures to the PCSD safety and security plans.

  • The District routinely trains with many experts in the field of school safety (Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations and U.S. Department of Homeland Security) and continuously makes improvements as new protocols develop.

  • Collaboration with local emergency support services ensures a comprehensive approach to PCSD’s emergency preparedness and response plan. The emergency plans are updated annually, and reviewed with local emergency service providers.

  • The District works closely with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Town of Pittsford Fire Department, and Pittsford Ambulance to plan for emergency preparedness/response and to conduct large-scale drills with faculty, staff and students.

  • Additionally, a Pittsford Town representative participates on the District Health and Safety Committee to provide a communication connection with the Town's emergency services.

  • Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has immediate and full access to all buildings along with photos of the schools and property on file for emergency response purposes.

  • PCSD’s on-site security staff consists of New York State licensed security guards who receive regular and consistent training and have completed training from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on incident command systems.

Emergency Management and Response Systems

  • Emergency Alert Buttons: As another layer of protection, the District has installed Emergency Alert Buttons in every school. The high schools have a two buttons because the buildings are bigger. The goal of the Emergency Alert Buttons is to decrease the response time of first responders in the event of an emergency and to notify building occupants of an emergency in real-time.

    When an Emergency Alert Button is pressed, the following will occur automatically and simultaneously:
    • Call to 911 to alert emergency responders, which automatically allows the operator to hear what’s happening in the room

    • PA announcement of a lockdown

    • Visual alert is sent to building computer screens and building/classroom telephones

    • Email and text alerts are sent to the building Incident Management Team and District administrators
  • Enhanced Phone Systems: New phones have been installed with enhanced security features, including an “office alert” button and a new warning system with the ability to send customized emergency messages to District phones, laptops, desktops, PA systems and 911 services.

  • Mobilize Rescue Units: Mobilize Rescue Units have been purchased for each school and provide instructions and materials to manage severe bleeding, cardiac arrest, seizures, choking, chest trauma, hypothermia, burns and more while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

    Mobilize Rescue units are in the following locations:
    • Elementary and Middle Schools: Next to the AED by the main office.

    • High Schools: Next to the AED by the gymnasiums.

Preventative Systems

Over the past several years, the District has bolstered its security measures in a number of ways.

  • Security Cameras: In 2020, safety upgrades included the installation of 16 additional digital security cameras in and around buildings to supplement over 200 existing cameras. These devices are used to identify and deter issues both during and after school hours, inside and outside of school buildings.

  • Smart Card Badges: The District has transitioned to highly fortified Smart Card badge technology for staff entry to buildings. Staff IDs have enhanced chip technology for authentication and access to doors and resources. To manage guest access to buildings, a District-wide visitor management system requires visitors to present photo identification that is entered into the security system.

  • Classroom Door Locks: Intruder locks are installed in classrooms throughout all nine school buildings. Additional safety measures include intercom/door buzzer systems and/or secured vestibules with security desks as well as intruder hardware on classroom doors. Recently, you may have heard about add-on security devices that can be used by a person inside a room to block a door from opening. These devices are not allowed in New York State per NYS fire codes.

Prevention Programs

In addition to these safety precautions, PCSD also puts considerable emphasis on prevention in school and in the community.

  • Mental Health Programs and Services
    The Student Services Department provides support programs and services for students and staff throughout the District including counselors, psychologists, social workers and other specialized mental health professionals. Student Services serves as the central point for social emotional supports and comprehensive mental health services, offers targeted services to students and promotes District health, wellness and safety. It also supports a variety of community partnerships and activities linked to safety and security.

    Each of our nine school buildings has a mental health team comprised of professionals in a variety of roles to support students and families. These teams work collaboratively to meet the needs of students and families and utilize not only our District supports, but also maintain a connection to our community resources. One such resource is Pittsford Youth Services who provide social work support at our elementary and middle schools. Additionally, Pittsford Schools maintains a collaboration with the Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Clinic at the University of Rochester Medical Center. This partnership supports education around mental health, staff and family collaboration with specialists from URMC as needed, and also provides a District-based clinic housed at Barker Road Middle School.

    Our high schools have implemented a Sources of Strength program which consists of a diverse group of students and adults from different cultures and groups within our schools who work to ensure that during difficult times, no one gets so overwhelmed that they turn to violence or suicide. Sources of Strength participants learn about warning signs and how to approach a trusted adult who can help and provide the intervention necessary for themselves or a struggling person.

    Most recently, the District and school buildings have formed Threat Assessment Teams who are completing training this year to provide proactive supports to students and adults. These teams will work collaboratively with the District Threat Assessment Team, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Behavioral Analysis Unit to create safe and supportive environments for students and staff and to decrease risk factors for violence.

  • See Something, Say Something
    The District continues to reinforce the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, and has conducted relationship mapping at all nine of our schools to assess the extent to which our students can identify at least one trusted adult at school. Our student body is our best means of prevention as they may be among the first to receive information about a possible threat to our schools. 

    • Parent/Student Support: Parent-student-school communication is key to preventing school violence. Parents are the frontline in identifying troubling behaviors in their children. When questions or concerns arise, parents should call their child's principal or school counselor so we can partner with you and your child to get the help they need to prevent potential escalation. Working together, we can keep students safe and secure.

    • Code of Conduct: As a District, we have adopted a variety of safety and security policies and procedures, including a student code of conduct that is enforced fairly and consistently. All high school students are provided with a copy of the student code of conduct in the student handbook, which is also available on the District website; all other students are provided a summary in student-friendly language.

While we have made significant strides in both preventing and preparing for emergencies, our work is ongoing. Social Emotional Learning continues to be a growing area of education for us because more children are exhibiting stress and anxiety. In working together, our community can keep students safe and secure.