Office of the SuperintendentPaterson Public Schools

Office of the Superintendent

A Message from the Superintendent on School Safety

First I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the parents and family members of the young children and staff members who lost their lives during the tragic event in Newton, Connecticut on December 14th.

It is never easy for any of us to hear about the loss of life – especially of those so young – and our thoughts and prayers go out to all who are grieving.

Certainly, a tragedy like this causes all of us who are responsible for school safely to pause and reflect on our own safety practices and question if we are doing all we can to ensure that our school buildings are safe.

Let me start by reassuring parents that we consider your children to be our children, and I firmly believe that our schools are among the safest places here in the City of Paterson.

Over the years, we have institutionalized many best practices including ensuring we have highly trained security personnel, conducting annual training of our staff which includes regular practice of drills including lock down drills and active shooter drills (recently reviewed by Homeland Security), and collaborating with City and County law enforcement officials to share and evaluate our district’s safety procedures and practices.

Although I am proud of what we have done to make our schools safe for our students and staff, there is always room for us to continue to improve on our practices and procedures.  To that end, we are currently examining our policies to ensure they are consistently implemented throughout the district, and we are evaluating each and every facility for areas that may be deemed vulnerable to someone who has the intent to do harm.

I have said many times that learning cannot take place in an environment where students and staff do not feel safe – and for this reason “Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools” has been and will remain one of our district’s top priorities.

Parents, students, and staff should know that I am firmly committed to this priority and I have advised my staff that we all need to ensure we are addressing any potential issues and pursuing any required “fixes” immediately.  In fact, I have asked our Deputy Superintendent, Ms. Eileen Shafer, to lead an initiative to update our Safety & Security Plan.  You will hear more about this plan in the second half of January, and we will ask our Board, and our community members to review the plan and provide any feedback or concerns that you may have.  Once this Safety & Security Plan is finalized, it will ultimately go to our Board of Education for a final review. 

Thank you.

Donnie W. Evans, Ed.D.
State District Superintendent
Paterson Public Schools

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