White Plains School District implements safety upgrades
With a combination of personnel and technology, White Plains City School District has implemented major safety upgrades.
Dr. Joseph Ricca, the superintendent of the district, says safety is the top priority at his district of 7,000 students.
One mode of safety, Dr. Ricca says, is that each school building has only one point of entry with a buzzer.
The locks on the doors require visitors to use the buzzer before entering. Once the visitor is inside, they must sign into the main office by handing in their ID. The staff then places the visitor’s ID into a machine that detects any criminal history.
“The system runs against databases that house information related to predators and sexual offenders,” Dr. Ricca says. “And if a red flag comes up, we know and we are able to use our protocol appropriately.”
The superintendent also says drills and additional cameras aid in protection. In the event of a severe crisis, like a mass shooting, classrooms are also equipped with safety equipment bags.
White Plains Police Department has also provided the schools with two armed resource officers. Dr. Ricca says these officers are part of the school community and are specifically trained to work alongside the students and the staff.
Debbie Augarten, the assistant superintendent for special education, says another safety component being implemented involves students’ wellbeing. “While it is really important that our buildings are secure, it's also important that the staff and students feel safe while they're in our buildings. We pay a lot of attention to make sure children are connected to adults and connected to other children.”
“Students that are connected to adults are more able to socially and emotionally more appropriate,” she says. “They have better coping skills, they can manage their emotions better.”