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Ewing Public Schools:   Update on School Security

Immediate Release

June 16th, 2022   5:00PM 

Dear Ewing School Community,

I hope this final week of the school year finds you well and looking forward to the summer.

As you know, the issue of school safety and security has been a priority for the Ewing Schools.  The recent tragedy in Texas has once again painfully reminded us about the tremendous importance of this shared responsibility.

We are very proud of the efforts we have taken in recent years to improve and enhance school safety and security.  I have detailed these initiatives in the past; however, since the purpose of this correspondence is to provide an overview of how the district is moving forward, I have decided to place an overview of those accomplishments at the conclusion of this letter.

Over the past school year, we have continued to look at ways to improve and enhance school security.  This has consisted of the following:

  • Meeting with stakeholders and expert advisors to review and analyze “best practices” with regard to school safety.
  • Touring each of our buildings with our security consultants for ideas and approaches to enhance school security.
  • Continuing to research ideas and approaches related to school security and carefully evaluating the positives and negatives of prospective strategies.

As this school year ends, I wanted to share the following new school safety and security initiatives that we will be implementing as we move into the 2022-23 school year.

  • We will be adding one or two School Security Coordinators to our existing team.  These staff members are experienced adaptive experts in security with law enforcement backgrounds who have been an excellent addition to our school community.
  • Our focus will continue to be on the social-emotional health of our students. We have added a guidance counselor at the elementary level and high school level to assist in meeting the needs of our students.  Furthermore, the counseling department is undergoing continued training and professional development on identifying and addressing students who may be dealing with stress, anger or trauma.
  • Our School Security Team will undergo training in School Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Training. We are planning to implement this process of expertly evaluating potential threats in the Ewing Schools.
  • All district schools will be taking part in the Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System, or Rapid Responder, which provides a unified means for school administrators, law enforcement, fire officials, and other emergency responders to share critical information during emergencies involving schools.
  • We will be integrating a component into our academic technology curriculum emphasizing the dangers of engaging in social media rumor-mongering and the spread of misinformation that has pernicious consequences.  In addition, high school students will be participating in Teen Mental Health First Aid training, which addresses the impact of school violence on mental health and guides students on how to obtain mental health assistance.
  • We will continue to emphasize the importance of our close relationship and cooperation with law enforcement, including the implementation of collaborative drills, training and tabletop exercises.
  • We will continue to make security enhancements and improvements to our facilities. We have been advised not to make these measures, as well as other security approaches, public at this time.

It should be shared that we have made the decision not to move forward with the installation of fixed, facility-based metal detectors in our schools.  This is an idea that we gave a great amount of thought to, and thoroughly evaluated and analyzed.  Ultimately, there were a number of cultural, logistical and operational concerns that motivated us not to go in that direction.

In closing, I have to again emphasize the importance of proactive vigilance on the part of the entire school community with regard to school safety.  Everyone must do their part to be observant, mindful and alert for potential threats and dangers to our schools. Please reach out to a staff member or police if you see or hear anything that you find troubling or worrisome.

Thank you and best wishes for a great summer.  Remember to always follow and monitor our communication portals for updates!

Sincerely,

Michael Nitti

Michael Nitti

Superintendent

 

Overview of Previous School Security Initiatives

  • The Ewing Schools Community’s support of the Referendum ‘18 initiative allowed the district to install an ultra-modern technology-based security system.  This research-based system is designed to quickly and effectively handle school emergencies and addresses areas of concern that have emerged in previous school safety incidents.
  • The Ewing Schools has a state of the art comprehensive camera system in all of our schools.
  • Each school campus has a dedicated assigned School Safety Coordinator. 
  • Each school district in New Jersey is required to have one certified School Safety Specialist.  These highly trained individuals have been through a state program in school security and serve as key resources and advisors with regard to school security, and are required to undergo continued training.  The Ewing Schools has four certified School Safety Specialists.
  • The Ewing Schools has designed and implemented a School Security Rubric, consisting of a detailed and comprehensive review of each school’s security system and preparedness that is completed by the School Safety Coordinator.
  • We have an outstanding collaborative with local law enforcement, consisting of a proactive approach to school security, information sharing, logistical planning and collaborative training and preparation.