Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory was joined by legislators, school administrators, representatives from Suffolk County’s Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, Division of Community Mental Hygiene Services, and parents and students at a School Safety Forum designed to create a dialogue about the issues surrounding school violence and how to protect staff and students.
The event, held at the Suffolk County Legislature Building in Hauppauge, drew participants from throughout Suffolk and highlighted the challenges facing school districts today. Speakers took the opportunity to address the difficulties in assessing the potential for violence, mental health issues and their impact on behavior, options for securing school buildings and the necessity of working closely with law enforcement officials on “see something, say something” initiatives that can ultimately save lives.
“It is clear to me from the meeting and the testimony of the people dealing with this issue on a day-to-day basis, that there is a need to continue the dialogue,” said Presiding Officer Gregory. “This is a new world and no one has written a handbook yet on a way to ensure students and staff are protected and secure in all school buildings. There are many measures in place in terms of programs and resources for school officials to assist them but no two districts are alike and circumstances vary. As a community, Suffolk needs to ensure that all parties in this fight against school violence, from school officials and law enforcement to the students themselves, have a seat at the table.”
Dr. Kenneth Bossert reiterated the need for continued communication. “The Suffolk County School Superintendents Association appreciates the continued collaboration, cooperation, and communication from Suffolk County officials, the SCPD as well as town and local law enforcement. Together we know that we can harden the systems we have in place, identify proactive measures to prevent violent acts, and reduce response times when emergencies do arise.We appreciate the meeting called by Presiding Officer Gregory and look forward to continuing the dialog.”