SHORTSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — The Manchester-Shortsville Central School District is implementing changes to its security policies after a student brought a gun to school last week, according to a letter sent to parents from Superintendent Charlene Dehn.
Officials from the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office said the Ontario County Sheriff’s emergency dispatch center received a call for a student with a semi-automatic pistol at Red Jacket High School on route 21 in Manchester around 10:19 a.m. Friday morning.
According to police, school staff disarmed and detained the 15-year-old male student before deputies arrived. The student was checking in with a staff member as a part of a routine where he would meet with staff members regularly to make sure he was ready for school.
Police say the student was upset and seemed determined to have a plan, the gun was loaded and the student had a second clip. Staff members tried to keep the student calm and relaxed. The school does not have metal detectors and police say it was the staff members that figured out there was a gun.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero talked about the actions of the red jacket staff saying they “performed an act that was of a heroic nature and potentially averted a serious situation”.
During the incident, the school was in a lockdown phase, once the individual was in custody the school then moved into a lockout.
Police say, once the student was taken into custody, no one else was in danger.
Authorities said it was the “best possible outcome, nobody got hurt, nobody got injured.”
The incident remains under investigation and police have not yet determined a motive.
On Monday, about a week after the incident, News 8 caught up with some parents voicing concerns.
“I was freaking out,” said parent John Collins.
“We were watching the window all day from the time we found out to the time he walked off the bus,” said Kalli Place, also a parent.
Both say they grew up in this region, but never recall any security incidents like this at school.
“Not with a gun, never with a gun,” said Collins.
In a recent letter to parents, the superintendent said the district is addressing safety concerns by:
- Adding more cameras
- Adding the Raptor system (to prevent access by known sex offenders placed on the sex offender list)
- Installing thumb-turn locks to all our classrooms and office doors, providing controlled remote access with cameras at our entrances
- Replacing exterior doors with swipe card access
- Creating secured entrances and also by placing safety film on windows.
- Installing a new PA system that has enhanced safety features for use in emergency situations. The wiring for the system is in the process of being installed.
- Due to the state’s restoration of the District’s Foundation Aid, the 2022-2023 school budget includes the restoration of the School Resource Officer (SRO). We are also discussing with our project manager and architects a plan to incorporate a weapons detection system or metal detectors at our main entrances.
Officials say due to the state’s restoration of the District’s Foundation Aid, the 2022-2023 school budget will include the restoration of the School Resource Officer position. Additionally, district leaders say project managers and architects are working to incorporate a weapons detection system or metal detectors at main entrances.
Dear Red Jacket Families:
As our District continues to recover from the incident that occurred on April 1, 2022, I want to share additional information and respond to rumors circulating within our school community.
The safety of our students and staff is always our highest priority!
Thanks to the courageous acts of a staff member, who had ongoing training and preparation, an extremely dangerous situation was de-escalated. The staff member’s immediate utilization of strategies from training received in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and Restorative Practices, along with the implementation of our District’s Emergency Response Plan procedures were key. Our students were kept safe and locked in their classrooms with their teachers. Other members of our staff, BOCES staff, and administration worked together in collaboration with law enforcement to keep all students and staff safe on the day of the incident.
Our level of preparedness, training, and implementation of our Emergency Response Plan, which requires a collective response from everyone, enabled staff to respond at a critical moment during a very serious situation. We are relieved and grateful that the cumulative effort of everyone, including law enforcement, resulted in a safe and positive outcome.
We recognize that this event has caused a tremendous amount of emotional trauma in our school community. In an effort to address these emotional concerns for staff and students, the District and BOCES Trauma Illness and Grief (TIG) counseling teams were on site Friday, April 1st, Saturday, April 2nd and also this week to support our students and staff. The District also encouraged staff to access the free, unlimited Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counseling services the District provides to all its employees and their families, as needed. We also enhanced security measures this week and operated following the normal school schedule.
Our Board of Education and State approved Emergency Response Plans which were followed on the day of the event, were created by the District’s Emergency Response Committee. These plans are revised regularly by the Committee which includes teachers, support staff, administrators, law enforcement, and our local fire chiefs. The Committee makes recommendations after critical review of our safety plans based, in part, on what we have learned through analyzing tragedies such as Sandy Hook. The Committee has helped us improve our school-wide emergency response procedures. Our staff and students practice these procedures by participating in numerous drills throughout the course of the school year. After these drills, the Emergency Response Committee reviews our implementation and we make adjustments as needed.
Our school officials and the Committee will evaluate and analyze our School District and emergency providers’ response to this incident to determine the need for potential revisions to our response plans moving forward.
In recent years, our School District has recognized an increase in mental health concerns and therefore, prioritized providing mental health services for our students. We increased the number of school counselors who work with our students on a daily basis. They provide strategies to staff on how to handle struggling students and they are instrumental when helping various school teams develop individualized plans to meet the unique needs of students. We added an additional full time high school counselor, a K-12 counseling position and an additional .5 psychologist position, providing Red Jacket with a higher than average counselor to student ratio. And, as mentioned earlier, The District purchased the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), to provide all staff and their families with free, unlimited counseling. Additionally, our Elementary School has a trained staff member from Ontario County who works with our students on the Second Step Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Program. The middle school has adopted the Character Strong SEL Program for their students. We also partner with several local outside agencies to provide more specialized support for our students and their families.
In addition to our emergency response work and additional mental health services, we have increased safety in our school buildings by adding more cameras, adding the Raptor system (to prevent access by known sex offenders placed on the sex offender list), installing thumb-turn locks to all our classrooms and office doors, providing controlled remote access with cameras at our entrances, replacing exterior doors with swipe card access, creating secured entrances and also by placing safety film on windows. We are currently installing a new PA system that has enhanced safety features for use in emergency situations. The wiring for the system is in the process of being installed. Due to the state’s restoration of the District’s Foundation Aid, the 2022-2023 school budget includes the restoration of the School Resource Officer (SRO). We are also discussing with our project manager and architects a plan to incorporate a weapons detection system or metal detectors at our main entrances.
The incident that occurred on April 1st evokes an emotional response from all of us. We understand that people have questions and want more information. However, school district officials cannot legally provide additional information about the student. Nor can we interfere with the active criminal investigation and prosecution. Law enforcement still has information to gather and work to do on this case.
While some may believe that the Board of Education, Superintendent, or other staff members can approve or deny the enrollment of students in our public school, state and federal laws prohibit that. All students are legally entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). In addition, all students are legally entitled to privacy and not have their confidential student information shared by school staff. This law is known as the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of all students.
If you have received information from a member of the school staff about this incident, we ask that you contact the superintendent at 585-289-2160 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The release of private information is a very serious concern.
We appreciate the empathy, understanding, and the overwhelming support of our community as we focus on the needs of our students and staff, while we heal together. We hope you enjoy April break. Thank you.
With Red Jacket PRIDE and Gratitude,
Superintendent of Schools
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.