A Response To Last Night's Incident - November 19, 2021

November 19, 2021

Dear Mt. Pleasant Community,

I am writing to address the situation that occurred last night on the Westlake Campus and the subsequent emails that the Board and I have received. An unannounced crowd arrived on campus and left shoes on the property. Some were blocking sidewalks and doorways in what appeared to be a protest in opposition to potential mandated Covid-19 vaccines for students by the State of New York. The District maintains a comprehensive set of policies and procedures related to the manner in which our facilities may be utilized by outside groups and/or community members as well as the visitation to our facilities. The District’s Code of Conduct provides additional specific guidance which governs the conduct of students, teachers, and other school personnel, as well as visitors and/or vendors.  In all circumstances, we must treat everyone and every group in the same manner in accordance with the above-referenced written mandates.

One of my primary responsibilities as your superintendent is to maintain the safety and security of our students, staff, and facilities at all times, including after the regular school day. A number of students and staff were still onsite when this occurred. This caused an immediate safety and security issue for those still on campus. Moreover, had the shoes not been removed, it would have resulted in a disruption to the opening of school this morning and a potential safety hazard for our students as well as the arrival of buses. Because the District did not have the personnel on site to facilitate crowd control at that time and we had no way to contact the organizers of the event to determine the number of individuals who would be on site, we reached out to our local law enforcement partners for assistance. This is our standard operating procedure for such an incident as described in our Code of Conduct and applicable district policies addressing visitors on school property. 

We are open to hearing the voices of all, but our facilities must always be used with prior approval and in accordance with our established policies and procedures regardless of the particular message sought to be communicated. Though many are wet from the rain and wind, the shoes that were removed for the safety of our students and staff have been collected in bags. If the organizer of the event wishes to pick them up, he or she is welcome to do so. Otherwise we will arrange for them to be donated.  

I arrived here five months ago with a personal goal of building relationships and bridges with all the stakeholder groups in the Mt. Pleasant Central School District Community. My door is always open and my desire to engage with all points of view towards the benefit of our students and staff is of my highest priorities. It is my desire to continue this. I also encourage the community to continue advocacy efforts with our state legislators in the NYS Assembly and Senate, and Governor Kathy Hochul. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly. We are in unprecedented times in education and we are in this together. I am pleased to partner with you.  

 

Kind regards,

Dr. Peter Giarrizzo
Superintendent of Schools