OSSINING, N.Y. Bill Kress, president of the Ossining Board of Education, said he would like parents concerned about their childrens safety to know one thing.
Their children are perfectly safe in the schools, Kress said Tuesday. If they werent, then my children wouldnt be safe in the schools either. I have a daughter at (AMD Middle School) and I have absolutely no concern about the childrens safety. They are absolutely safe.
The Ossining School District is in the process of re-evaluating its safety measures after parents became concerned because of an alleged sexual incident that took place in April at AMD Middle School. The incident resulted in the arrests of two 13-year-old boys at the school. While a staff member reportedly intervened during the situation, school officials promised that additional steps would be taken to prevent further incidents in the future. Kress and Superintendent Phyllis Glassman sent out an email to district parents this week, informing parents of new steps being taken on student safety.
Student safety is always our number one priority in the district, Glassman said Tuesday. The day after our meeting with the parents last week, we met with the districts emergency response team and shared reactions of parents and members of our community. And in addition, (Wednesday) were meeting with our regional student coordinator to review the districts safety plans.
The letter to parents outlined initial steps the district is taking to increase safety - surveying students about bullying, implementing a plan to train a Dignity/Anti-Bullying Coordinator in each school, and reviewing the schools communication policies. The district also asked that parents review the See Something, Say Something policy with their students and to immediately alert district officials if a student or parent encounters bullying or any aggressive behavior that could threaten the safety of a student.
Weve heard from parents in the community who have said were over-protecting our students and others who think we should increase steps in our standards and practices, Glassman said, adding that every safety measure would be re-evaluated, including the districts email policy. Were always trying to balance our communitys right to know and the districts responsibility to protect our children. So to balance that and protect the students rights, were going to take another close look at that.
The Ossining Board of Education unanimously adopted a Dignity For All Students Policy during its regular meeting Tuesday night. Glassman said adoption of the policy had been planned even before the board found out about the incident in April.
Although it has become even more important with what happened recently, it is another step we are taking to bolster our efforts, she said.
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