School District Looks To Create Protocols For Serious Incidents

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego City School District is moving forward with creating a manual listing procedures for managing acts, incidents or threats of sexual violence or other serious incidents in the schools.

The school board received an update Tuesday night from the three administrators spearheading the effort: Dr. Linda Doty, Dr. Dean Goewey and Mary Volkomer.

“The work that we’ve done over the last two months has also been guided by one of our district goals: to create and maintain an engaging, safe and motivating environment that promotes meaningful connections with all students,” Dr. Goewey explained.

The plan is being created to deal with what might happen if something unforeseeable might occur, he added.

They presented the board of education with a draft document outlining several procedures.

While they are experts in the field of education, he pointed out they weren’t experts in this particular realm.

“However, we have become very knowledgeable and we’ve come to deal with it from the perspective of not only administrators but of parents,” he told the board.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a safe environment for the students, he said, adding that the draft document outlines the roles and responsibilities of the key players in the district.

“Any staff member who witnesses or learns of an act or an incident of violence is required to take the necessary steps. These may be with the assistance of the school counselor or psychologist understanding that student safety is the priority,” Volkomer said.

She went on to outline the steps they should take.

Dr. Doty described the steps an administrator should take in case of such an event. Dr. Goewey went on to outline the steps required of a superintendent.

“The superintendent should make the determination to involve the police department and apply the appropriate protocol,” he said.

Every incident of violence should be documented and kept in a separate file so as to not be mistakenly included with the student’s academic files, he continued.

The threesome then offered suggestions for (school) building safety.

“A management of student movement is one way to promote accountability and safety. Classroom teachers and other building staff should use reasonable care in the management of student movement in and around the building,” Dr. Doty pointed out. “A student sign-out system should be implemented for all students who leave the classroom to move about the building for any reason at all.”

Dr. Goewey touched on the problem of multi-student restrooms.

“In schools where in-class restrooms are not available, no more than one student should be permitted to use an out of classroom restroom at one time,” he said.

A student sign-out system should be implemented, he added.

“Specifically designated multi-student restrooms should be assigned to classrooms and building areas and communication of those restrooms should be made very clear to students. That would prevent sixth graders from using a first grade restroom or a second grader wandering into a fourth grade restroom,” Dr. Goewey said.

Other safety practices should include on-going instruction in all schools regarding ‘good touch,’ ‘bad touch,’ personal safety and bullying (including cyber bullying), Dr. Doty said.

“Students should be encouraged to seek out staff for assistance on conflict management, reporting of incidents and the acquisition of healthy habits to relieve stress and anxiety,” Volkomer said.

The board took no action on the document Tuesday night.

They provided copies of the draft to some of the concerned parents in the audience as well as representatives of the Home and School organization.

Their input will be considered as the district works to create and adopt a final document.