As the father of five and superintendent to 9,800 students, I find myself enraged by the senseless loss of life that occurred on Feb. 14 in Florida. I am struggling to find understanding for what now is the 18th school shooting in the United States since Jan. 1, 2018.
Further confounding that anger is that one of our WW-P retiree’s granddaughters was among the 17 victims in this horrendous act. We ask that as a community we keep all the victims’ families in our thoughts.
As a father, husband and educator I cannot help but feel empty. Something is fundamentally broken in our society that allows and perpetuates the continuation of senseless gun violence.
There must be a conversation about reasonable measures that can be made to ensure the safety of citizens. There is much room for discussions to be had about this societal nightmare that continues to be perpetuated upon our students and our larger community. Affecting change requires an involved and active citizenry.
As a school community, we are feeling the impact of such tragedies and it is expected that we will go through a range of emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, and helplessness. As a school district, we are constantly reminded of our responsibility to ensure the safety and wellness of over 11,000 students and staff spread across 10 buildings, and we take the responsibility of safety and wellness extremely seriously.
We have a strong partnership with the West Windsor and Plainsboro police departments. I am proud of that partnership and thankful to have such dedicated and caring officers serving our community. District officials have ongoing discussions with local law enforcement and emergency management officials to review and revise safety plans and protocols. Evacuation, lockdown and active shooter drills are conducted monthly.
We have implemented security enhancements that include lockdown door magnets, cameras and intercom system upgrades.
The district also provides school security officers at every building in the district through the “Eyes on the Door Program.” In the weeks ahead, the administration will present further enhancements to the Board of Education during the budget process; these recommendations will be presented at public meetings.
Further, we are working to provide support to students in the area of mental health. Please know that we have supports available should your child be struggling with the events in Florida or with any other emotional issues: please contact our counseling department to receive support for a child who may need help. Also, I have attached two important resources for everyone to read.
WW-P is committed to ensuring the safety and security of your children. We are committed to working with local law enforcement officials and experts to ensure that we are doing all that we can to keep students and staff as safe as possible. We ask for your continued support in ensuring all safety and security protocols are followed.
We cannot do this alone. We need your dedicated support with the following: If you become aware of a concern that would impact the safety and security of the school, report it to the local authorities and school administration. If you are aware of a social media statement or threat, report it.
As you visit schools and have concerns regarding school security, report it to the building administration. As a visitor, please follow all guidelines regarding school visits. As a valued member of our school community, please partner with the district to ensure the safety of all our district’s children. School safety is a community issue. Together we can work to ensure the highest level of student and staff safety.
David Aderhold is the superintendent of the WW-P Regional School District.