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Yorktown School Chief Addresses Community in Wake of Newtown Shootings

Yorktown Central School District Superintendent Ralph Napolitano sends out community letter outlining how schools will help students.

Yorktown Central School District Superintendent Ralph Napolitano has outlined what the district will do in the wake of the Newtown, CT shooting. The plans include reviewing the entry and departure protocols.

Below is a copy of the letter Napolitano sent out to the community:

Dear Parents and Yorktown Community Members:

I have found myself both distressed and distracted by the magnitude of the tragedy that has unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut. During my lifetime, I have watched in amazement the deterioration of responsible, respectful and civil behavior. Although we talk about it more than ever, the application of these principles doesn’t seem to stick beyond the talking stage. Society has  born and bred a new kind of “monster-coward” whose evil is unprecedented. What kind of low have we reached when one human being can point and shoot a gun at a five-year-old child?

I want you to know that despite my distress, we are and remain committed to the physical, emotional, andsocial well-being of our students and staff. Nothing will deter us from this primary responsibility. Our administration, faculty and staff would respond with equal courage and compassion as the heroic educators in Connecticut.

Tom Cole, the Assistant Superintendent of Schools, has been extraordinarily proactive in establishing District-wide and Building Level Emergency Teams in every school. These BERT committees have been professionally prepared and receive ongoing training and development through the year. Upon our return to school on Monday, all teams will review our emergency plans to ensure that they are current relative to this tragedy. We will also review entry and departure protocols with our staff to ensure their full understanding.

Over the years, our Board of Education has been very generous in their support of school safety and security measures. They have allotted money for training, for monitors, for Student Resource Officers and for added security. Our entire staff is trained in emergency measures and is committed to keeping our students safe; in every school we involve all students and employees in emergency preparedness drills on an ongoing basis. We will continue to monitor and take appropriate steps to help ensure the safety of our population and buildings. In this we are steadfast and of one mind. We have an outstanding relationship with our Town’s law enforcement department. The Chief and his staff have been genuinely supportive and generous with their assistance to the school district, as has Supervisor Grace and previous Town of Yorktown administration.

This weekend and over the next few weeks, your children may demonstrate insecurity and fear about this tragic event. Please remain calm in your discussions with them. Do not exacerbate their fears with your own. Please do not let them watch the horror of the media coverage of this event. This will only serve to distress them further. Our psychologists, counselors and social workers ask if you notice any change in your child’s behavior, for example heightened fear, unwillingness to leave home, anxiety, etc., to please call them. They are an outstanding team of professionals. We are all here to support the children.

Please feel free to reach out to any of our professional staff; our school psychologists are available as afirst point of contact. Here are their names and phone numbers for direct contact:

  • Mohansic Elementary School: Ms. Arlene Klausner – 243-8000 x. 16640
  • Brookside Elementary School: Dr. Denise Sandor – 243-8000 x. 13645
  • Crompond Intermediate School: Dr. Helen Bart 243-8000 x. 14640
  • Mildred E. Strang Middle School: Ms. Jessie Wallace – 243-8000 x. 12640
  • Yorktown High School: Ms. Suzanne Reilly-McGannon – 243-8000 x. 11640
  • Yorktown High School: Ms. Jessica Schnabel – 243-8000 x 11113
  • Yorktown Alternative High School: Ms. Lissette Gonzalez-Sforza – 243-8000 x. 17640

Additional resources can be found here.

If we simply add more security measures without looking at the root causes of these societal problems, we are spinning our wheels. We need your support and understanding and attention to the big picture – violent video games, inappropriate use of the Internet and other technology, alcohol abuse, cyber-bullying and more, all warrant our time and attention.

On Monday, throughout the land and throughout Yorktown Schools our flags will fly at half-mast and we will pause for a moment of silence. Throughout the upcoming week and beyond, our professional staff will of course be available to support any children who may need assistance. Our District Emergency Team and Building Emergency Teams will meet to ensure that we are thorough, consistent and thoughtful in our procedures and practices. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our schools are the safe havens we intend them to be. We will remain steadfast in continuing our very important work: the physical and emotional well-being of the children, their character, social and moral development, their ability to do and say the right things as contributing members of their community and of course subject knowledge, skills, and understanding. A civil and safe world is counting on its parents and educators.

Please keep the Newtown community in your thoughts and prayers. Their pain and suffering is unimaginable. In solidarity with the educators and parents there, let us strive to do all that we can to make sure that these unthinkable events cannot ever occur again.

Sincerely, 

Ralph Napolitano

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