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A Letter Regarding Safety & Security from Superintendet Dr. Rene Rovtar

Montville Township Public Schools - Safety and Security

February 23, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians:  

In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Parkland, Florida, all of us in the district remain focused on school safety and security.  I want to reassure you that I consider the safety and security of our students and staff to be my most important responsibility.  I feel that our district practices reflect this priority. We frequently review practices, update policy and procedures, and implement additional preventative measures. 

The district previously took advantage of resources at the state and county level to continue to improve our efforts in this regard.  A specialist in school security was made available to the district through the office of the Morris County Prosecutor.  This specialist toured all of our schools and developed a comprehensive report that included recommendations to enhance our practices and preventative measures.  The district has already implemented many of these recommendations.

As a practice, most school districts do not discuss the details of emergency and security plans. It is our belief that sharing these details creates a potential vulnerability and places our staff and students at risk. 

However, last January I communicated to parents that the district was adopting a new protocol in response to armed intruders in the building.  In working with the Montville Township Police Department, we identified A.L.I.C.E. as a technique that experts across the country believe will increase the chance of survival during an active shooter incident. This program has also been adopted by a number of other school districts in Morris County.

A.L.I.C.E. is an acronym which stands for:

Alert - We will use clear, concise language to convey the type and location of the event, although this language will be tailored in an age-appropriate way for younger students.

Lockdown - We will continue to use this strategy and to try to get all staff and students into a secured area.         

Inform - Communication during the event keeps the intruder off balance and allows for good decision making.  

Counter - Apply skills to distract, confuse and gain control.

Evacuate - Reduce the number of potential targets for the intruder and reduce the chance of victims resulting from friendly fire when help arrives.                      

Using the above A.L.I.C.E. method, we have taught students and staff recommended protocols for responding in the event an armed intruder enters a building:

  1. Listen carefully to the location and type of event;
  2. Get to and/or remain in a secure area until it is safe to evacuate;
  3. Should an armed intruder enter the area, apply skills to distract, confuse, and gain control. 
  4. As soon as it is safe to do so, evacuate.

In NO WAY are we asking our staff and students to make any attempt to subdue an armed intruder outside of their secure area.  However, we have provided and will continue to provide information and knowledge that will potentially greatly increase the chance of survival in an armed intruder event.  The methods involve:

  • Barricade the room to inhibit easy entry by an intruder
  • Cause as much chaos in the room as possible to create sensory overload for the intruder
  • Do not be a stationary target
  • How to interact with responding law enforcement officers during these events

Training has emphasized that the best way to survive an armed intruder is to evacuate.  When that is not possible, we need to make sure all are empowered mentally and emotionally to react. 

The district regularly works with law enforcement and Township officials to implement and update recommended security practices. We will continue to do so. The Township Police have designated Officer Scott McGowan to work with all of our schools.  Officer McGowan visits the schools regularly and has assisted us with the A.L.I.C.E. implementation.   Previously we engaged in discussions with Township officials regarding the assignment of a School Resource Officer to the district.  In the wake of the recent tragedy, we are looking to re-engage with the Township on this topic.  We will certainly keep parents updated on these discussions as we move forward.

Sincerely,

René T. Rovtar, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools