Niskayuna School District holds safety debriefing after lockdown

June 20, 2018 01:37 PM

NISKAYUNA – Van Antwerp Middle School in Niskayuna is taking a look at its emergency procedures and protocols. This comes more than a week after a lockdown at the school for several hours due to a threatening note found in a bathroom.

Tuesday night the Niskayuna Central School District held a safety debriefing session to talk about the lockdown.

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“There was a lot of questions about the police response, especially the speed and length of time and what the threat was,” said parent Tammy Mills.

Tuesday night the superintendent revealed the non-specific threat was “I’m going to shoot up the school.” He said after it was discovered, the school went into lockdown and the Niskayuna Police Department searched the entire building. Going from room to room, which took a long time.

Mills asked about more resources being brought in to help speed up that process in case there was an actual threat in the building. The superintendent said the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office said it would be willing to help in another situation.

The school said it’s also looking to improve the reunification process between student and parents when the lockdown ends. They said the dismissal process and making sure students got on the right bus, also took up a lot of time

The school is also looking to share more information with parents and students when it comes to emergency procedures and protocols. They also want to be more prepared for students specific needs, whether it be medical or something else, ahead of time.

"I think there are students that struggle with anxiety and behavioral issues and just some more training, and how to zone in on these kids particularly during this kind of incident,” said Mills.

On the day of the lockdown, one mother said her son with autism was dismissed last. She said she was concerned because he is non-verbal. That's a problem Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara can relate to.

"It's concerning because I have a child with special needs and he may not be able to tell you if he needs something,” said Santabarbara.

Santabarbara said he’s had several parents reach out to him since the lockdown. He said his office is now working to see if any protocols regarding special needs students in situations like this need to be put into place.

"We're trying to find out what the regulations are, we have a call into the New York State Education Department we want to make sure special needs children are priorities,” said Santabarbara. “I'm prepared to introduce legislation to make those changes.”

Niskayuna Police announced Tuesday it arrested a teenage boy in connection to the incident. He’s facing two different charges.

Another safety debriefing will be held Monday, June 25 at 6 p.m. at the Van Antwerp Middle School auditorium.


Emily De Vito

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