Annual School Safety Report -Sept. 2022

The following report has been prepared by School Resource Office Jason Peruzzi. The report focuses on what school safety looks like at the Canajoahrie Central School District. It additionally reviews some of the steps we, as a district, have taken to achieve that goal

School safety is a multi-layered approach starting with the school climate, which includes rapport building. The programs at the Canajoharie Central School District include the STAR and mentor program, modernizing learning spaces in the cafeteria and libraries, and all the after-school activities, to name a few.

Another layer is risk assessment – I’m proud to say our team is very active – meeting weekly is the highest recommendation. This includes extensively investigating threats with a team that provides for administration, law enforcement, counselors, and support staff. The team pays attention to mood changes, life-changing events, dips in grades, attire changes, and the list goes on and on. The team also investigates tips from the school and community-wide tiplines.

Additonally, our district has made improvements to physical barriers, such as locks and entrances. Entrances have been changed and are much better for security, and bulletproof glass has been installed in the school. Our lockdown system has been updated and works very well. Montgomery County Dispatch now has a live feed to our cameras in the event of a lockdown. We’ve labeled all the windows and doors to reduce response times. We made sure all doors were now locked in the morning before school, and I checked the cameras each morning to make sure there was nobody inside the building before students arrived. I never leave the school unless another officer takes my place.

If all else fails, the last and final layer is the response to an active threat. Our district has adopted ALICE, a citizen’s response to an active shooter. This is an ambitious response that changed the way the school responded to an incident. The old way of thinking was to hide and wait for the police to come simply. This resulted in an active shooter having very high accuracy and very high casualty rates, much higher than the national average. Now students and teachers have more options than just hiding. This year we are ramping up the ALICE training and introducing new scenarios for our lockdown drills, so we are better prepared.

I take a lot of pride in knowing our district works on all steps to make our schools as safe as can be. We continuously work on every level each year. I was recently awarded two grants that I wrote, one replacing badly needed portable radios for the district safety team and the other providing protective gear for our department to give us an edge in a critical incident.

I want to end this report on a personal note. This is my fifth year in the school family and I’ve been accepted beyond my expectations. I have students calling me their uncle, protector, and mentor. This has become more than a job for me, the people in this district are my family and the students are my kids. Should everything we just talked about fail and someone tries to come to our school to hurt my family, they better be ready not only to deal with someone who is trained to be paramilitary but also a dad who will do anything to protect his family. My kids are in the district now, and my wife is recently employed. My entire family is spread out in the building now. I have never once felt nervous sending them to school and I know everyone in the school is doing everything they can to protect our kids.