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Increased Police Presence Mark Coming Days in West Orange Schools

West Orange administrators respond to recent events

​Besides expressing sympathy to the Newtown CT community, West Orange school district administrators reached out to the public to "assure families that we have multiple procedures in place to deal with any crisis situation," according to a communication from Interim Superintendent James O'Neill. 

O'Neill further told parents that, "We have requested that the West Orange Police make their presence at our schools more frequent and for longer periods of time tomorrow and the rest of the week. They have agreed and will have a police presence at all schools at opening and dismissal.  We greatly appreciate their cooperation."

West Orange public school students, explains O'Neill, participate in two monthly drills and follow a crisis plan approved by local and county law enforcement. Cameras are installed at the entrance to all schools, and visitors must be buzzed into the buildings.

"Recent events in town which resulted in the evacuation of Roosevelt and a lockdown at both Pleasantdale and the high school tell us that staff and students are well trained and responded appropriately in these unplanned circumstances," wrote O'Neill. "We believe it is prudent for parents to be concerned but we also believe we are engaged in best practices and believe we have take all the steps to assure your child is safe in the West Orange schools."

The district also released the following for West Orange families to consider:

As we all try to come to grips with the tragedy in Newtown, Ct our focus is on the families and students in West Orange.  We want you to know and think about the following:

  • We recommend you have some discussion about the incident at home.  Other students will have learned about it from parents or older siblings and it is best your child hear about it from you first.  The discussion does not need to be in detail, just that something happened which scared students and while it was far from here some of your friends might be upset so it is best to talk about your feelings with a counselor;

  • We request you call school tomorrow if your child has been impacted by what happened and may need special help;

  • We have requested that the West Orange Police make their presence at our schools more frequent and for longer periods of time tomorrow and the rest of the week. They have agreed and will have a police presence at all schools at opening and dismissal.  We greatly appreciate their cooperation;

  • Since most parents do not have any experience dealing with an incident this tragic we have provided some websites which will give you some guidance in talking with your children – please see links below

Sylvia December 18, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Before you will talk to your children please read this: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/how-not-to-talk-with-children-about-the-sandy-hook-shooting/?smid=fb-share Also, I have not seen one police car outside Hazel Elementary in the morning or in the afternoon.... My heart is broken and I pray for all the families.
Lori December 18, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Thanks Sylvia! Does anyone know if they have found anything out about the person/people who called in the bomb threats at Roosevelt and JCC? These matters need to be seriously dealt with. We should have 0 tolerance for violence or threat of violence, especially in our schools!!
Sandra O'Boyle December 18, 2012 at 03:05 PM
WOBOE, Please do what you've promised in this letter. We have not seen any police presence at the opening or closing of school at Mt. Pleasant Elementary.
Lori December 18, 2012 at 03:13 PM
WOBOE 'requested' an increase in police presence and the W.O. Police agreed. So if you are not seeing an increase, I would think the responsibility lyes on the police not the BOE. The BOE didn't promise it.
Resident 356 December 18, 2012 at 05:52 PM
My daughter came home and we discussed the discussions that she had in school.
West Oranger December 19, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I don't think it's wise to post publicly where there are police and where there aren't police. If you're concerned, call the non-emergency police number, the school, and/or the BOE. As for talking to your kids, I think it's irresponsible for us not to talk to our kids about what to do in violent situations. There was an excellent report on NPR yesterday, profiling parents from Park Slope and Brownsville in Brooklyn. The Park Slope parents were concerned about scaring their children, but the Brownsville parents were more concerned about protecting their children, and indeed, had already had this conversation with their kids because they are in a neighborhood that experiences high levels of gun violence. We let our young kids come to us with questions about what happened, and in a separate conversation, rolled this scenario into the other safety scenarios that we periodically go over (dogs, strangers, fire, etc.). We told them if someone starts shooting that they should run, hide, or play dead. We emphasized that like the stranger and fire situations, this is an unlikely scenario, and since we didn't make a big deal of it and haven't dwelled on it, they weren't anxious or scared.

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