Hopewell Valley Regional school security forum scheduled for Oct. 9

Courtesy photo
Hopewell Valley Central High School (Courtesy photo)

A special forum outlining school security upgrades in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District has been set for Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Hopewell Valley Central High School Performing Arts Center.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Smith, Assistant Superintendent Anthony Suozzo and Rosetta Treece, the director of curriculum and instruction, will be on hand to talk about the changes. Suozzo is the school district’s safety and security specialist.

“We do all we can to protect the students and staff. We want to make parents aware of the training and strategies we are implementing,” Suozzo said, adding there will be time for a question-and-answer session for parents at the forum.

Treece will talk about the steps being taken to support students’ social and emotional development, including addressing mental health issues. The district has increased its student support programs and expanded its relationships with local mental health providers.

The school district has also implemented a “Hope and Help” tip hotline that is monitored around the clock for students, staff and parents who want to share any concerns they may have and that may impact students’ safety. Callers may leave a message on the tipline at 609-737-4000, ext. 8477, or they may send an email to [email protected].

Smith and Suozzo will discuss safety and security measures, such as the installation of secure vestibules or “man traps” that control access to a school. Emergency communications procedures have been tweaked, including how parents are notified in an emergency.

A handful of incidents have occurred at the schools.

Last year, Suozzo said, a student from another school district was allowed into the high school. A student opened the door and let the outsider into the building. Students have been taught not to open the doors for anyone.

At the Timberlane Middle School, someone saw a stranger walking across the field and notified authorities. The “stranger” was a Hopewell Valley Central High School senior who was walking home for lunch, Suozzo said.

Next week’s school security update forum can be viewed on Facebook Live and it will also be videotaped and put on the school district website.