Sunday, December 16, 2012

Letter from the Superintendent


Dear Edison Township Families:

Two days after the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, I remain at a loss for words this evening as I write to express both grief and outrage over the tragic and senseless loss of innocent children and the adults who cared for them. Like you, I am in shock over this abominable crime, especially knowing it occurred during what should be a peaceful and joyful season for so many of our families.

I have discussed with the school administration appropriate plans for the return of students and staff to classes tomorrow morning and throughout the week. I would like to share the following information:
  • The principals will discuss and share with their entire faculty and staff tonight and before students arrive tomorrow how to be prepared for students and what to say. Each teacher will receive information about what to do and/or say in the event a student raises a concern or questions about the tragedy. 
  • Guidance counselors, nurses, and others will be available and accessible in each building to respond to children's concerns and needs as necessary and appropriate.Parents are encouraged to email their child’s teacher or principal information pertaining to any child that may have been distressed over the weekend, so we can adequately prepare for their arrival to school.
  • We suggest the following document, entitled A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope, may provide parents and all caring adults with some ideas and age appropriate responses to today's events:
  • The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. In light of the recent events, we will be thoroughly reviewing all safety procedures throughout our district. In addition, we will reevaluate all of our school facilities, which are very old and overcrowded, to ensure they are adequately addressing school safety. I anticipate an honest and healthy dialogue will occur in the coming months with our community regarding the school safety infrastructure throughout our school district.
  • Furthermore, Chief Bryan of the Edison Township Police has been in contact with me and has increased patrols in our school neighborhoods and is committed to working with the district as partners to further provide a safe school environment in Edison.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to reassure parents that we take school safety and security very seriously in the Edison Township Public Schools. Although we can never anticipate life’s events, what we can do is be planful, vigilant, and proactive, particularly when it comes to our children's safety. We review, plan, and practice emergency responses and protocols with students and staff monthly and throughout the year. We collaborate closely with the Edison Township Police and other public safety and health officials to review plans and procedures to maximize school safety and security. We know that attending to student and school safety is their first and most important priority.

Over the next several days and many months to come, the heart wrenching details and pictures will emerge as all of us try and wrap our heads around and comprehend the depths of this terror. For now all we can do is pray for the victims, their families, and the parents who are grieving tonight over the loss of a beautiful little boy or girl.

On behalf of our district, I ask that you keep the Newtown, Connecticut community in your thoughts and prayers and I appreciate your support as we work together in keeping our schools and community safe.

Tonight let's also make sure we hug and kiss our own children and reassure them they are safe and that we love them very much.

Richard O’Malley, Ed.D.

Proud Superintendent of Edison Township Public Schools

Additional Talking Points: Helping Children Following School Violence: