ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School District held a public session on the school safety plan for this academic year Tuesday night. The district says it is “committed to the safety and preparedness of its students, staff, and visitors.”

Each school in the district has a “Building-Level Emergency Response Plan” (BLERP) developed by respective principals and coordinated with first responders.

Charles Cutler, an Emergency Response Coordinator for the district, says the security plan has not changed dramatically for this upcoming school year, however… “(There’s) an emphasis on the situations that have occurred around the country, and situational awareness,” he said.

The mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is still present in the headlines and fresh in minds. Cutler says the key is learning from mistakes made there — and ensuring they never happen here.

“It’s everyone working together to take care of the kids,” said Cutler.

The security plan for this year includes things like:

  • Training, drills, and exercises
  • Having security personnel either on-site or having a relationship/plan with the police
  • Video surveillance at every building
  • Intrusion detection
  • Early detection of violent behaviors. 

“What we really focus on is a team approach, it’s not just the safety team. It’s parents, teachers, school staff,” said James Sheppard, RCSD Director of Safety and Security.

Sheppard says everyone has a role to play in students’ safety. He says the past twenty-plus years — from Columbine to Uvalde — show you can’t relax when it comes to safety. 

“You’ve got to stay current. You’ve got to stay up on current events, new technology. I think we’ve done a wonderful job of doing that,” he says.

Cutler says their mission is to ensure kids can learn and teachers can teach. “They’re our kids. They’re our future. Taking care of our students is our priority,” said Cutler.

Public comment is open on this matter until August 13th. The Board is due to vote on the security plan on August 25th. You can read the full RCSD security action plan here.

The District-Wide School Safety Plan is reviewed annually by the District-Wide Safety Team under the guidance of the Superintendent or designated Chief Emergency Officer.