Message from Superintendent

Dear Monroe-Woodbury families,

A few parents have emailed me with their growing concerns after yesterday’s message regarding the incident at Monroe-Woodbury High School. I appreciate this open line of communication and wanted to share additional information about the steps the school district is taking to address student behaviors on school property. 

Administrative Appointments - Director of Security & Interim HS Principal

At the Wednesday, December 15 meeting, the Monroe-Woodbury Board of Education approved the appointment of two important positions in our school district. Please join me in welcoming Joseph Tripodo as Director of Security and Emergency Management and Lori Hock as Interim Principal of Monroe-Woodbury High School. 

Mr. Tripodo comes to the school district after recently retiring from the New York State Police. During his 39 years of service with the agency, Mr. Tripodo served at the highest command levels, most recently as Deputy Superintendent-Colonel/Field Commander. As third-in-command, Mr. Tripodo was responsible for field operation for 4,900 uniformed officers, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation detectives, the Office of Counter Terrorism, intelligence gathering and dissemination, and all Special Operations. He is an expert in security, counter-terrorism and intelligence.

In addition, Lori Hock was appointed as Interim Principal of Monroe-Woodbury High School at last evening’s meeting. She will hold this position from January through June 2022, while the district conducts a comprehensive search for a permanent high school principal due to Mr. Kaste’s retirement.

Ms. Hock, a Monroe-Woodbury alumna, has been an employee of the district since 2006. She currently serves as the district’s Athletic Director, a position she has held since 2016. Prior to that, Ms. Hock served as a physical education teacher and coach at MWHS. She came to Monroe-Woodbury with 13 years of experience in education. In addition to her new role as Interim Principal, she will maintain oversight of athletics for the remainder of the school year.

We look forward to welcoming Mr. Tripodo to the Monroe-Woodbury family. I am confident that his extensive experience will be a great asset to our district’s security planning and preparation. We also are excited as Ms. Hock takes on this new role, where her deep commitment to the school community and our students’ well-being will help shape a culture of accountability and respect at the high school.

New traffic flow/protocols at HS/MS

In the next step of a multi-pronged plan to enhance safety and security throughout the district, safety enhancements have been established in our two largest school buildings, Monroe-Woodbury High School and Monroe-Woodbury Middle School. These schools were prioritized due to the high volume of visitor traffic experienced on a daily basis.

Visitors to these buildings will now see fully functioning vestibules that create an extra layer of protection and a new traffic flow for our school community. These areas are staffed with security team members inside the vestibule with new offices that are effectively “locked” to visitors until they undergo the screening process. The screening process serves as the first stop in a multi-step entry procedure for visitors. Updated signage, in English and Spanish, is posted to identify designated visitor entrances and exits and to guide people through the entry steps. 

Trained members of the school safety team, as well as the School Resource Officer, maintain a constant and visible presence in our school buildings. These protocols are strictly enforced to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals in our buildings. 

Hiring of Additional Safety Staff

A second School Resource Officer will be added to the high school safety team as of Monday, December 20. Building a strong safety team is a top priority and we continue outreach efforts to identify qualified candidates. Similar to school districts throughout the country, filling these positions is a challenge, but we are committed to creating a strong security presence in our schools.

Social Media

Some of you may have seen the disturbing videos shared widely on social media of students fighting in school districts throughout the country. Monroe-Woodbury students are also on these same social media platforms. Students use social media to gain attention for their poor behaviors. District staff monitor these platforms on a regular basis and are working with local law enforcement to have these unauthorized sites taken down and to identify the individuals responsible for their creation. This is a multilayered process and one that requires careful research.

Parents and guardians are reminded to speak with their children about the dangers of social media. When identified, students who create and engage in these sites will be disciplined accordingly, based on the Acceptable Use of Computerized Resources agreement and the district’s Code of Conduct. 

Additional Initiatives

During the second half of the 2021-2022 school year, the district will invite K-9 units to conduct training exercises at Monroe-Woodbury High School. The K-9 units are trained in the detection of illegal drugs and their visits will be intentionally unannounced. 

In addition, building administrators will meet with students to discuss student behavior expectations.

We recognize that everyone in our schools needs to feel safe. This sense of security leads to positive interactions among students and staff members, allowing students the freedom to learn and grow and teachers to focus on the profession they love. We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to support our school community.

Warm regards,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools