Letter to SJ Parents and Community Members

Dear South Jeff Spartan Parents and Community Members
Posted on 03/09/2018

As educators, parents, school staff and tight-knit community members, we are all greatly saddened and deeply concerned about the senseless acts of violence that have occurred in schools and other venues across our country.  Providing safe schools for our children is the highest priority of every parent, every school district and every community. 

School districts everywhere – even here in rural northern New York – are experiencing understandably heightened levels of anxiety over things they see or hear in school, outside of school and on social media that are, or are perceived to be, threats to school safety.  To help maintain a school environment where children can focus on learning and participating in positive activities with their peers, it is important that school staff, parents, law enforcement agencies and community members work together to promote a culture of caring and connectedness and that we help our children be vigilant but not fearful.

I am aware that concerns continue to circulate through the school community about a social media post that was brought to the attention of our administration several days ago.  Although the post did not contain any direct or implicit threat, it raised concerns among some students and parents in our community.  I am appreciative that people took action to contact school officials as it allowed us to look into the details of situation.  State Police were contacted as a precaution and, after a thorough investigation, they reported that there was no evidence of any substantiated threat toward the South Jefferson Central School District, its students, or staff.  Our administrative team investigates each and every concern about school safety that is brought to our attention and we involve law enforcement when necessary.

We have many proactive measures in place at South Jeff.  In addition to safety plans, building security measures and emergency response procedures, we have an active Pupil Service Team who supports students who are experiencing difficulties.  We have great staff who connect well with children and who listen.   We want a culture where staff, students and parents know they can speak up if they have a safety concern. 

South Jeff staff is actively reviewing safety plans and procedures.  We have had multiple meetings with NYS Police officers and other safety experts to get their input on our plans and facilities and to provide open lines of communication with law enforcement agencies and other emergency responders.

Law enforcement officials have been directed by their agencies to have an increased presence in and around schools.  Please do not be concerned if you see uniformed officers in the school buildings or marked cars in our parking lots.  There are many reasons for their presence:  routine visits, scheduled meetings or because we have asked for their assistance in investigating issues not related to threats or safety concerns.  We appreciate their support in promoting a safe learning environment and they are a welcome presence in our buildings.

As part of our on-going efforts to promote a thoughtful, active focus on school safety, administrators and guidance counselors will be meeting with students at every grade level next week to reinforce information about: school safety procedures, school rules that help keep them safe, who to go to with concerns, the responsible use of social media and the positive aspects of having police officers visiting our schools.  

I also want to make you aware now that the District will be having a full Superintendent’s Conference Day on Friday, March 30th instead of an early dismissal day.  There will be no school for students on March 30thWe will be holding an important safety training for all district staff members on that day.  (There will not be a Regional Scoring Day in May as had been originally indicated on the calendar.)

Please feel free to contact me or your child’s building principal if you have questions or concerns about school safety.  We have a wonderful school community.  I welcome your input as we work together to maintain the learning environment we have - and value so dearly - at South Jeff.  


Mary Beth Denny


Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2018 West Corporation. All rights reserved.