The safety of everyone in our school community – every student, every employee and every visitor – is critically important every day.
As we experience a week that has included unsettling moments for two of our school buildings, I wanted to reiterate that message, and provide reassurance that we are committed to safe learning environments throughout the City School District of Albany.
We understand and share your concerns, and we appreciate the outreach over these last few days. We are listening, and incorporating your feedback as we work to support our students and our schools.
Maintaining safe learning environments at school means many things.
It means that whenever a security concern arises, we immediately involve our partners at the Albany Police Department to investigate and, when necessary and appropriate, engage a broad network of state and federal law enforcement resources.
Maintaining safe learning environments also means developing and following our own internal protocols to address incidents and behaviors that cause disruptions.
It means providing the support and problem-solving resources that our students need to avoid conflicts or resolve them before they escalate.
And it means building and strengthening relationships with our students and families, and throughout our community, so that we can see potential conflicts before they develop.
We have teams of professionals in every building dedicated to all of this work, often in partnership with organizations and community leaders who are similarly focused. These individuals work together to support our students when they need a hand, and to discover, understand and address the causes of social-emotional-behavioral concerns when they arise.
Working with law enforcement agencies
Albany High School and Tony Clement Center for Education have had specific security concerns this week. Please be assured that these incidents have the attention of everyone on our team as well as our partners in law enforcement, who are investigating.
At Clement, threats called into the Albany Police Department led to lockouts on Tuesday (twice) and Wednesday mornings.
At Albany High, student fights Monday and Tuesday, including one in which our security staff confiscated a knife from a student, have been compounded by threats of violence on social media.
We know this is disconcerting. We are aware of these threats and taking them seriously.
Under the leadership of Principal Jodi Commerford, Albany High has taken deliberate steps this week to address the behaviors that underpinned the altercations Monday and Tuesday. That includes an increased police presence on campus and in school, intentional consequences aligned with our Code of Conduct for students who refuse to go to class, and an early staggered dismissal for students for the rest of this week.
Supporting social-emotional well-being
I also would like to remind all of our families of the extensive resources available at all of our schools to support our students’ social-emotional well-being and mental health.
Throughout our district, social workers, behavior specialists, school psychologists and school counselors are at the ready for any student who wants or needs someone to talk to, supporting the work of our caring and dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff.
Please encourage your child to take advantage of these compassionate, skilled professionals anytime they feel a need.
See something, say something
Finally, as we do year-round, we ask for your partnership in these efforts as well.
If you or your child see, hear or read something that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened, say something immediately. If it is a picture or video on social media, please bring it to the attention of a teacher, principal or other trusted adult at school.
We want our students to be comfortable reporting concerns they may experience at school, at home or in the community. We remind our employees to inform their supervisor immediately as well.
This is a vital part of our overall security efforts. We ask you to have these conversations at home as well.
Once again, thank you for your partnership, and for reaching out to offer your suggestions and feedback. Please continue to do so.