March 2, 2018

Dear Parents of the West Hempstead Community,

As a follow-up to my letter on Feb. 16, I want to provide you with an overview of current security protocols within our schools and what steps our district has taken to evaluate our current practices.

Currently, the district participates in practice drills in the event of an evacuation, lockdown or lockout. Our protocols for allowing visitors into our buildings have also been enhanced, requiring visitors to be buzzed into each building and present valid photo ID. We have security guards who regularly patrol the district and additional guards stationed within our middle and high schools. Furthermore, our communication protocol during times of crisis has also been reviewed and enhanced so that parents are informed of the facts as quickly as possible.

While these steps have been added to our district over the past several years, it is a priority for us to evaluate our current systems and make adjustments as necessary. During this past week, I have been in touch with each of our school principals to review this issue. At each of their faculty meetings next week, the principals will review and discuss safety plans with all teachers. Furthermore, we have met with all security personnel at each of our schools to review and reinforce current practices.

At the middle school, plans are under way to build a security vestibule at the main entrance of the building, so that all guests can be verified before being granted access to the main part of the school. Security vestibules are in place at other schools, although we are currently investigating ways to better secure them. Additionally, in the near future, we will be conducting a “safety day” at all schools, during which students will review lockdown procedures in each of their classes.

During the coming weeks, the discussion on safety and security will continue with our Board of Education, administration and staff. On another note, we are aware that there are several nationwide school walkouts planned in the near future to remember the victims of the Parkland, Florida, tragedy. I am working with our school administrators to determine how to best provide an outlet for those students who wish to recognize the day, while at the same time ensuring their safety. I will communicate our plans once they have been determined.

I thank you for your cooperation and look forward to working together to ensure as safe an environment as possible for our students.

Sincerely,

Patricia Sullivan-Kriss
Superintendent of Schools