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District School Security Update & the Anonymous Alert System
District Security Connector Report
Updated June 8, 2018

The District Security Connector Group has been “in the community” engaging as many voices as possible to gather the security-related input. At our most recent Connector Group meeting, the Connectors shared their findings with the larger committee. We are excited to share that with this input, and with input shared by the community at Board meetings, via email, and by other means, the District has thoughtfully crafted a draft Request-for-Proposal (RFP) which reflects the voice of the community. This RFP, when finalized, will be issued for an outside agency to engage in a follow-up, comprehensive, security review. 

Additionally, the District continues to share information with the community via text message and email communication, amongst other means. Whether these messages inform the community of routine matters or are intended to dispel unfounded rumors, this communication practice continues to keep the community informed of the facts. As related to communication, the District utilizes an anonymous alert system which provides the community with a method to report concerns anonymously to the District.

This anonymous alert system, which can be accessed by clicking on the Anonymous Alert icon on the bottom of the District home page (https://www.anonymousalerts.com/commackufsd/), provides a mechanism for community members to “say something” when they “see something.” Each time an anonymous alert is issued, the District conducts a thorough investigation and it is our practice to respond to each and every alert.

Please remember, if you choose to inform the District of a concern via the anonymous alert system, please include enough information that would allow the district to conduct an investigation. This may include providing names, locations, dates, times, web links, photos, social media account names, etc. Without sufficient information, the scope of the District’s investigation becomes very limited. 

We will continue to provide future updates regarding school security as this school year ends and another begins. Please know that we are committed to protecting the safety of the children in our care each and every day.
May 18, 2018 Security Connector Group Update
In early March, the Commack UFSD shared information with the community pertaining to school security and the formation of the District Security Connector Group. Please read below for an update on the work of the District Security Connector Group and other matters related to school security.

With the approval of the Board of Education and the Superintendent, the District began the process to form its District Security Connector Group. The charge of this group, which includes parents, community members, Board of Education members, and District staff, is to construct and release a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) for an outside agency to engage in a follow-up, comprehensive, security review. Further, members of this Connector Group are engaged in the review of research-based, best practices designed to assist school communities in identifying early warning signs and develop prevention, intervention, and crisis response plans. 

Since March, the District Security Connector Group has met and is actively engaging in its work. This includes members previously participating in a workshop to learn about the role of a “connector” and  strategies to engage in their work, which is gathering community voice through conversation. 

Currently, our connectors are “in the community” and engaging as many voices as possible to gather the input of the Commack community regarding the topic of District Security. At the next District Security Connector Group meeting, which is scheduled for late May, the connectors will share all the input they have gathered. 

Further, members of the District Security Connector Group are currently engaged in research related to crisis prevention, intervention, planning, and the effects of such on students and their learning. This research is evaluated for its relevance, accuracy, authority, and other parameters to ensure validity and reliability, and includes works such as peer-reviewed journals and publications by professional organizations. This research does not include opinion pieces, blogs, social media posts, or other such sources.

The future work of this committee includes bridging the input of the community with the literature on the research to construct an RFP, which strikes a balance between both. The goal of the District is to find the “best fit” outside agency to conduct this review. As the work of this Connector Group unfolds, the District will continue to provide further updates to the community. 

On a related note, the District wanted to take moment to remind the community that it has dozens of security protocols in place allowing the District to address any number of types of issues. While for safety reasons, there is some information we cannot provide (i.e. floor plans and some specific details), it is our hope that the following serves as a reminder of Commack’s current security practices and what is planned for the future. 

Commack currently:
  • Employs 30 full-time security personnel; nearly all are current or retired law enforcement officials. These individuals are specifically trained to identify potential issues and threats and respond to crisis situations.
  • Monitors and guards each school’s single-point-of-entry during school hours. 
  • Posts additional guards to our larger schools for a greater security presence.
  • Provides for 24/7 “roving” security guards who respond to locations on an “as-needed” basis.
  • Stations a security guard after school hours at the main entrance of schools until approximately 9:00 p.m. daily to help monitor after-school and evening activities;
  • Monitors district security from a substation with access to every security camera in the district. This substation/security department is manned 24/7 and dispatches security/contacts the SCPD as needed. 
  • Employs a visitor management system which scans a school visitor's driver license and performs a check against the National Sex Offender Registry. This system ensures the identification of every visitor before they are permitted access to our schools. Visitors are not permitted to enter a building without a specific purpose. 
  • Maintains 325+ security cameras in various locations throughout the District (hallways, cafeterias, exterior entranceways, etc.) and monitors these cameras 24/7 at all eight schools, and the administration building. 
  • Has equipped every elementary classroom with a specialized door hardening lock-set. These are door knobs with specially designed locks that can be locked from inside a classroom with a simple turn of a key in the event of an intruder. 
  • Provides that staff actively supervise outside recess and carefully monitor the students and the surrounding areas. You should know that we have recently restructured recess areas and monitoring protocols to further insure the safety of students when outdoors. 
  • Operates a District communications system that enables administration, security staff, and other key personnel to quickly and easily communicate with each other throughout the District.
  • Maintains detailed school safety plans that are updated annually by a district wide safety team. Teachers and staff are required to receive annual training on applicable plans. These plans, including floor plans, have been shared with local law enforcement agencies. These plans include various drills, including a lockdown drill, which are practiced regularly. For safety reasons we cannot post these plans. Further, we invite SCPD to attend and observe our school safety drills and provide us with feedback. Our goal is constant improvement.
  • Cooperates fully with SCPD, our School Resource Officers, and the Fire Department. All schools contain police “911 hot lines,” which are red emergency phones that are direct lines of communication with the Suffolk County Police Department. 
  • Invites the Fire and Police Departments to be active participants in the development of our emergency plans and help run drills and give constructive feedback.

More to Come:

  • The approved 2018-2019 budget includes additional/enhanced security cameras, external alert strobe systems, classroom door locksets at Commack High School and Commack Middle School, and additional security vehicles necessary to post outside of schools.
  • As discussed above, the District will engage an outside agency in a follow-up, comprehensive security review.

 In Commack, we recognize that providing a safe educational environment goes beyond the physical safety and security measures mentioned above. Therefore, included in Commack’s comprehensive framework for a safe educational environment is a focus on social and emotional learning, student support services, and mental health services. Please anticipate a future update with more information regarding these additional school-safety related practices. Please know that we are committed to protecting the safety of the children in our care each and every day.

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