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Pelham Schools Superintendent Addresses Recent Lockdown

Pelham Superintendent of Schools Peter Giarrizzo addresses the recent Middle and High Schools' lockdown.
Pelham Superintendent of Schools Peter Giarrizzo addresses the recent Middle and High Schools' lockdown. Photo Credit: Contributed

PELHAM, N.Y. -- Pelham Superintendent of Schools Peter Giarrizzo addresses the recent middle and high schools' lockdown.

This was not a scheduled lockdown drill. We still do not know what caused the automated announcement at Pelham Middle School, but we are committed to finding out what did.

Nobody was working on installing or providing maintenance to the system today, as was the case on Monday. The information I currently have indicates that our staff followed our established protocols very well.

The security of both schools was cleared at approximately 12:15 pm by the Pelham Police.

Since the police and administration were unclear about what was happening, a full security sweep of the building was conducted. The police followed their own established protocols and their guns were drawn as they inspected the building.

While we are unable to identify the source of the lockdown activation, we do know that there was never an intruder, and no panic button was pressed by any staff member. Fortunately, our students and staff were never in danger.

Once we were confident that our students were settled into their classes, Mrs. Clark and Dr. Roelle addressed the student body via the public address system to inform them that our school counselors, psychologists, and administration were available to any student for counseling or to discuss any thoughts they had about the event.

An emergency meeting of the Crisis Team was held immediately following the incident. In addition, a joint emergency faculty meeting was held after school today so that we could debrief the situation and identify any areas in need of improvement.

Our district-wide Safety Committee, including representation from both the Pelham Police and Pelham Manor Police Departments, had already scheduled a meeting for Monday. Our goals include a review of our established protocols for all emergency situations, a schedule for us to practice those protocols, and the development of a plan of communication so that our students, staff, and administration are well informed of what to expect and do in an emergency.

Please note that in the event of a lockdown on the secondary campus, the entire campus is locked down and we are communicating with one another within the District to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff.

As you have seen, we send communication to parents after the emergent situation has been successfully concluded. Unfortunately, this precludes us from communicating with you as we are focused solely on the situation before us.

Please know that I recognize how anxiety provoking it is to not be aware of what is happening with your children. We are seeking to find a balance between providing parents with accurate information in a timely manner while managing the emergent situation before us. To that end, I will be looking at ways that we can communicate with parents in these types of situations.

As the days progress, your children may or may not show signs of anxiety or be upset about this incident when you least expect it. Please keep us informed and know that our counselors, psychologists, and staff will be available to meet with you and/or your children to provide reassurance that the Pelham schools are safe places to learn.

For younger children it is advisable to monitor Internet behavior and television more carefully. Encourage your children to talk with you about what happened today and acknowledge their feelings.

I have directed my staff to research every feasible reason for why this lockdown happened. Our staff is already in contact with our security and telecommunications companies to identify the cause and I will share more information as it becomes available.

This is an extremely unfortunate series of events that will have my undivided attention until it is resolved.

Very truly yours,

Peter Giarrizzo

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