PV Schools

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Let me begin by again stating that all students and staff are safe across our district.  I would also like to thank all law enforcement and school personnel who reacted quickly in response to this morning’s incident.

This morning, shortly before 8:30 am, an anonymous call was made directly to law enforcement, fictitiously reporting a shooting at Putnam Valley High School. In response to this call, law enforcement officials and school district personnel immediately reacted and placed the High School into a Lockdown.  It quickly became known that Putnam Valley was one of many school districts in the region and across the country to receive the same message.  However, law enforcement agencies from across the region continued to respond accordingly and followed protocols which included sending officers to all of our schools simultaneously.  Law enforcement agencies will continue an increased presence at all buildings for the remainder of the day.

As we continue to debrief on today’s incident, we will receive additional information that will help inform our practices.  Many aspects of today’s incident went exactly as planned and practiced.  However, we know that in the heat of the moment, a procedural step was missed that would have automatically put the Middle School into lockdown as well. We are evaluating all procedures. Our internal communications, between buildings, worked quickly and we responded to the direction of law enforcement throughout the district-wide response.  While there was never a threat at Putnam Valley Elementary School, law enforcement responded to that campus immediately as is their protocol. After the High School had resumed normal operations and administration was aware there was no threat, law enforcement requested that we follow our hold-in-place procedures so they could walk through the building.

We appreciate law enforcement’s diligent response.  We will be reinforcing our procedures and updating some technology to ensure that any future lockdown places both the High School and Middle School into that protocol simultaneously.

This was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved, and we learned lessons that cannot be replicated during our drills.  Each building will be convening their Building Emergency Response Teams to debrief on today’s incident.  The District Emergency Response Team will also be meeting with members of law enforcement to debrief on today’s events.

Throughout the incident, we quickly communicated accurate information directly to our staff, students and families.  Obviously, the community’s desire for information in the midst of an incident exceeds our ability to provide information at the same time as we are focused on the immediate incident and the safety of our students and staff.  Please know that we take the safety of our students and staff extremely seriously. Following today’s incident, the level of protection will only become stronger as we implement changes based on what we learned from today.

Below is some additional information shared by our school security consultant, Altaris Consulting Group, regarding today’s incidents across the country.

Putnam Valley High School was the victim of a “swatting” incident earlier this morning. Swatting is a criminal harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing an emergency services dispatcher) into sending a police or emergency service response team to another person’s address.  Numerous districts in Westchester, Putnam, and other parts of the State were also the victim of the same swatting incident this morning.  Police have confirmed the buildings are safe and normal operations have resumed.  Schools across the country continue to deal with an unprecedented number of non-credible threats. Please be aware that all statements or actions that suggest a threat to the safety and security of our school populations are taken seriously.  Any such statement comes with significant consequences.  We are closely monitoring these incidents in collaboration with our law enforcement partners.

Thank you for your continued partnership and understanding during these challenging times.  Please know that Putnam Valley Schools remain a safe place for students and that today’s incident will only improve our procedures moving forward.

Thank you.

Dr. Jeremy Luft

Superintendent of Schools

There is no school for students on Monday, April 22, 2024