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Lewiston-Porter Board of Education: District views safety of Lew-Port students, staff as highest priority

Sat, Feb 23rd 2019 07:00 am

By Jodee Riordan

Lewiston-Porter Board of Education President

Last Friday, Feb. 15, multiple law enforcement and emergency services agencies conducted an active shooter exercise on the Lewiston-Porter campus. There has been a lot of press on the event in local media, for which we are thankful, as it is important for the public to both understand the amount of the preparation and to feel secure. Thank you to all first-responders and emergency management agencies who participated and who give their all every single day to keeping our community safe.

The exercise involved Lew-Port staff and administration working with the Lewiston Police Department, Niagara County Emergency Services, New York State Police, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, and our local fire companies. The drill also included various departments from Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.

The drill was conducted on the Superintendent’s Conference Day, with no student attendance in the district. Thirty teachers participated in the exercise, acting as casualty victims. This was the first drill in the state to include transport of victims to a local hospital, and we are proud to have been a part of this vital work.

The Conference Day also included important professional development work on mental health, character education and crisis response planning with the Niagara County Mental Health Department and the district crisis team.

The safety of our students and staff are our highest priority. We sincerely hope that there will never be an actual incident on our campus or any other. As the recent active shooter drill has raised awareness and concern, let’s take this opportunity to review safety and security at Lewiston-Porter.

The Lewiston Police Department is located directly on our campus, creating a strong, constant police presence. We have armed security on campus every day. We work closely with police to maintain a secure, peaceful campus, as well as to assess any perceived threat, including welfare checks on weapons access. Surveillance across campus is state-of-the-art, and includes interface with LPD. All buildings have secure entrances (completed with the last capital project), and security protocol is in place for building access and student arrivals/departures.

We balance security with support: Lewiston-Porter has both a school counseling plan and a comprehensive multi-hazard districtwide school safety plan in place, in addition to building-level response plans. These plans are reviewed and approved annually by the Board of Education and NYSED. We have standing building- and district-level health and wellness and safety committees, as well as the policy review committee. We prepare for all possible emergency scenarios throughout the year, including the recent active shooter drill, by working closely with local law enforcement, fire companies, and county and state emergency management agencies.

In emergency situations, crisis response protocol is in place: First, the proper authorities are notified and mobilized. Immediate, appropriate action is taken to assess and intervene in the crisis situation. Once the situation is under control, parents are notified. The community is then notified as soon as possible by our robocall and email system, and through media outlets. Communication continues until the crisis is resolved with accurate, timely information shared via the official channels.

As part of the emergency response plan, administration and emergency management agencies have conducted a thorough review of training exercise. The Board of Education was briefed this week.

Our community can be assured that, in the event of any and all emergencies, Lewiston-Porter and all local emergency service agencies are well-prepared.

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