Safety & Security Information
Update Regarding District Safety & Security
Since 2018, the district has retained the safety and security consulting company Altaris. This organization and its team of former police officers and experienced safety consultants have provided us valuable guidance to make sure the district safety plans and procedures meet or exceed all state mandates and regulations. Altaris works with several other local school districts including Rye and White Plains, which contributes to regional uniformity in our plans and proposed responses. With the 2022-23 school budget passing, we will soon be onboarding a full-time professional through Altaris who will be in our buildings daily to ensure we are regularly following best practices.
As a district, we have increased communication with our local law enforcement officials, with whom we have very collaborative relationships, and have requested an increased regular police presence around our schools. Routinely, building principals review our protocols with students and all school employees, who on a regular basis practice safety drills and train for emergencies. We use a single point of entry in our schools, and outside doors are manned or locked during the school day. We continue to use a key fob entry system for employees and a buzzer system for visitors who are greeted and vetted by a security officer or hall monitor at each of our schools. The district has also upgraded and expanded our video surveillance cameras. All those in our schools are encouraged to report any uncommon behaviors or activity. We are sensitive to national events that have unfolded recently and have heightened our awareness in all aspects of safety and security.
On our district website, one can find the District Wide Safety plan, a public-facing document that outlines district safety procedures. Updates to this year’s plan include New York State Education Law regulations, including memoranda of understandings with local police agencies. The District Wide Safety Plan has also been updated to include language that acknowledges that cyber security threat protocols have been established in School Building Level Emergency Plans. District Emergency Plans are shared with and practiced by employees but are kept confidential due to the nature of the information and for the safety of all concerned. The safety of our school community and students remain our top priority at all times.
Port Chester Schools has two main areas of cybersecurity. Internally we focus on data privacy while externally we focus on the infrastructure to provide safeguards.
The district DPS team meets biweekly to discuss, review and improve our data privacy protocols. These include requiring all vendors to sign data privacy agreements and parent bill of rights agreements. We ensure the district is in compliance with NYS Ed-Law 2d and protecting student and staff data. We provide a robust training for all new teachers about cybersecurity and data privacy as well as require all staff complete a data privacy refresher training each year. We also constantly have email campaigns to all staff about the importance of not sharing student data, protecting and maintaining passwords, and how to identify a phishing threat. We also have an external BOCES consultant review all of our procedures and meet with the DPS team to discuss findings and make recommendations.
In terms of our cybersecurity infrastructure and safeguards, we have several network-facing devices that protect outsiders from getting through to the district network from the internet such as an intrusion prevention/detection system and firewall. While browsing the internet in the district or on a district device, the students have their web browsing activity filtered to prevent browsing inappropriate content or malicious websites containing malware. Students’ email communications are protected through configurations such as geo-fencing, spam protection, whitelisted/blacklisted senders and other privacy controls. On any device that isn’t a domain-enrolled Chromebook where the device is safely locked down utilizing Google’s Admin Console, the users are protected with Next Generation Anti-Virus and Policy to prevent any malicious programs from executing and to ensure good computer hygiene.