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Dear Monroe-Woodbury families,

As we enter the final days of the school year, I feel compelled to reach out to families and address safety questions and concerns in our schools. Recent tragic incidents in schools throughout the nation have raised questions about security and safety protocols, especially within our M-W buildings. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is paramount to the work we do and remains our top priority. 

I have asked Joseph Tripodo, the district’s Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to provide answers to questions we have received from community members. Please take a few minutes to read his answers below and reach out to him directly for further clarification. Mr. Tripodo, along with your district leadership team, remain committed to providing a safe, nurturing school environment for all students, staff and visitors in our buildings.

In addition to sharing important age appropriate information with your children regarding our safety protocols, we want to remind families of two important things:

  • Social media continues to create challenges as students engage in online conversations that may be perceived as a threat to the school district. Each and every perceived threat made to the school district, whether verbal, written or posted on social media, is taken seriously. Law enforcement is notified immediately. Protocols may include a house visit by law enforcement to determine the credibility of the threat, and student suspension and serious disciplinary action, per the district Student Code of Conduct. In some cases, if appropriate, legal action will be taken.

Please take time to speak with your children to remind them that these types of incidents create undue stress among their peers and the community-at-large. They should also be aware that serious consequences will result if any type of threat is made to our schools. The school district and the M-W community must work together to eliminate these situations. 

  • I also want to remind students, families and the community at large that Anonymous Alerts offers an easy way for individuals to anonymously report any suspicious activity, bullying or other student-related issues to a school administrator(s). Information may be shared anonymously via the link on the district website and action will be taken immediately. All reports will be given careful and thoughtful consideration. 

As always, your district team is here to answer questions and provide support. Please reach out directly to your child’s building principal or me with questions or concerns.

Warm regards,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools

Q&A with Joseph Tripodo, M-W Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness

What procedures are in place in our schools to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff?

HOLD - In a HOLD, students clear the hallways and remain in the room or area until the “ALL CLEAR” is announced.  They continue business as usual.  Adults close and lock the door, account for students as well as adults and continue business as usual.  

SECURE - In a SECURE, students return to the inside of the building and continue business as usual.  Adults bring everyone indoors, lock the outside doors, increase situational awareness, account for students as well as adults and continue business as usual.  

LOCKDOWN -  In a LOCKDOWN, it’s “LOCKS-LIGHTS-OUT OF SIGHT”!  Students move away from sight and into a room.  They maintain silence and do not open the door.  Adults recover students from the hallway if possible.  Lock the classroom door and turn out the lights.  They move everyone out of sight, maintain silence and do not open the door.  The mentality is RUN - HIDE and if necessary - FIGHT.

EVACUATE - In EVACUATE, students bring their phone, but leave their belongings behind and go to the location they are directed to.  Adults lead the students to the Evacuation Location, account for the students as well as the adults and notify Administration of missing, extra, or injured persons.

SHELTER - In a student's SHELTER, utilize the Safety Strategy for specific Hazard.  

  • Tornado - Evacuate to a shelter area.

  • Hazmat - Seal the Room

  • Earthquake - Drop, Cover and Hold!

Adults lead the safety strategy, account for the students as well as the adults and notify Administration of missing, extra, or injured persons.    

What new procedures have you implemented since you were appointed as Director of Safety?

I have implemented procedures regarding the interior locking of doors, traffic and parking control, pedestrian access, visitor management/credential exchange, computerized report writing, and security booth log books for all schools.

Has security been more alert in response to recent events? Have there been changes to procedures?

Recent events haven’t significantly changed our regular safety procedures that have been effective to date. Safety Officers have heightened awareness and are required to strictly follow the safety procedures and policies that are in place. 

What was taken into mind when creating these procedures?

The safety of students and the staff is first and foremost. We know that our school and community must feel safe and secure when in all of our buildings and to do so, we try to establish a clear foundation of appropriate measures and practical strategies. The security measures we implement, and do not implement, affect the culture of the school.  

Our mindset is to make a concerted effort to follow security practices that plant seeds of confidence and preparedness and, in doing so, we try to create a culture that supports a positive teaching and learning environment.

How many SROs are in the district/per building?

There is at least one full time School Resource Officer in each school.    

How many members make up your security team?

There are in excess of 45 School Safety Officers in the District.

What kind of training does the security team undertake?

All Security Guards are required to complete an 8 hour course that is followed up by 16 hours of On-the-Job training.  After certification, they complete an annual 8-Hour in-service training.  At various times, they are given refresher and specialized training on things like de-escalation.

What is the procedure for MW to defend against a threat?

The procedure to deal with the threat of an Active Shooter is a “Lockdown”…”Locks - Lights - Out of Sight!!!”.   

Safety Officers have been sent emails regarding past Active Shooter incidents at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Robb Elementary School for their Situational Awareness.  These emails particularly emphasized the need to ensure that there are no unlocked or open doors to any school entrance, and if so, that door must be staffed by an Administrator, a Safety Officer or a School Resource Officer.  

The mindset is that Schools are much safer when there is a single point of entry and that all doors to the outside, as well as the classroom doors, are locked.