Superintendent Reassures Safety After Newtown Tragedy

Salvatore Illuzzi's letter home to parents talks about safety, how to talk to kids and more.


The following letter was sent home to parents of students in the Cinnaminson School District:

Dear Cinnaminson Parents/Guardians,

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write this note regarding the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. As an educator, but more important, a father of two sons, an event like this shakes me to my core. I also realize that it touches our entire Cinnaminson community. Be assured that by working together we will cope with this tragedy.

As details continue to unfold, I want to assure you that your school district will continue to evaluate and re-evaluate all school security measures and to make sure that we are doing all that is reasonably possible to keep our students and staff safe.

This note is to provide some information and resources for you in discussing this event with your child/children. It is also a response to questions as to the measures that we have taken over the years to provide a secure learning environment for our young people.

Talking With Your Child/Children

Most important is to reassure your child/children that the adults in their lives are doing everything they can to make their home, school and neighborhood safe for them. We can reassure you that we are doing that in your schools. Our counselors and crisis counselors will be available in our schools this coming week and we encourage any students, staff or parents who would like to talk with someone to reach out to these individuals for help.

Other suggestions include:

1. Do not minimize your child’s feelings. Stress that schools are safe places. In fact they are more secure than ever before.
2. Encourage your child to report specific incidents (threats, talk of suicide, bullying) to you, a teacher, or the school principal.
3. Discuss the safety procedures that are in our schools. Explain that they are in place to assure his/her safety and the need to adhere to same.
4. Recognize behavior that may indicate your child is concerned about returning to school and seek help from your school counselor.
5. If you have questions, seek help from your school staff or a mental health professional.

School Safety and Security

Parents/guardians have asked questions in regard to the measures that the school district has taken to assure the safety and security of their children. This note is to also assure you that the Board of Education and Administration have incorporated the recommendations of the New Jersey Safer School Initiative and the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in its school safety plans. In some cases we exceed these suggestions. As you are aware entry into our schools and offices is by magnetic card which is supplemented by a push button/monitoring system. Each of our classrooms has what is known as a “columbine” lock. Once a room door is closed it can only be opened from inside. A door key is required to gain entrance from outside. Staff and students are told NOT to open the door for ANYONE during a lock down. To the best of my knowledge Cinnaminson is the only district in the three (3) state area that has made such an investment in classroom security.

There is a Crisis Management Plan and a School Safety and Security Plan for each of our schools and offices. These have been developed with the assistance of our Township Police and Fire Departments. They are reviewed with staff at the start of each school year as well as through the year with revisions made when necessary. There is a Fire Drill and a Crisis Drill each month when students and/or staff are in the building. The Township Police are present and monitor all crisis drills for compliance. Over the last year we have also cooperated with our Township Police in their having a greater presence in all of our schools.

As part of its Capital Project Proposal, which was adopted in December 2011, the Board of Education plans to make changes in the entry, office and classroom areas for each of our schools as a safety and security measure. As you could expect there is a significant cost tied to the proposal. We are hoping that the state will release the necessary funds so that we can move these projects forward.

No matter the above, it is only with your diligence and involvement that we can continue to have safe schools for your daughters and sons. Quite frankly we cannot do it alone and your working with us is imperative in this most important matter.

As always thank you for your support of your Cinnaminson Schools and more important at this time, keep the families of Newtown in your thoughts and prayers.

Salvatore J. Illuzzi, Ph. D.
Superintendent of Schools

John December 17, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Welcome to the new math....its like using a credit card and then saying how can I repay that amount when I do not make that much......Oh thats right we can TAX ourself to make it work....ha ha the joke is on us, happy holidays
Chip December 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I applaud Dr. llluzzi's comments and realize he does have the best interests of our kids always as his main focus. Those who cast stones about his comments truly don't know the man. I trust he will do what is right for the school district and more important for the kids of this town.
Reform NJ December 17, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Everybody knows that local, county, state and federal police jobs got ridiculously fat in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Police employment numbers everywhere have been cut back and rightfully so! These cuts mean getting rid of top paying senior dead wood, laying off rookies, and illuminating non-essential positions like school cops, community police officers, special task forces, etc. This has happened statewide and not just in your little neck of the woods! Our state and your municipality simply cannot afford these luxuries anymore. If your town still has these positions, they shouldn’t!
Reform NJ December 17, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Chris Christie deserved a lot of credit for going after and fighting public unions to get them under control. Union reforms, 2% CAP, arbitration reform, sick time reform, performance evaluations all have been positive things for NJ. I bet the senior officers that you say were “forced out” cashed out big time under fear of Gov. Christie’s reforms. Hard to feel sorry for any 100K plus a year police admin officer who cashed out on their sick time to the state average of 25K. These “boat fund” payouts time has come and this had led to an exodus of senior employees statewide! Support Christie’s “sick time is for when you are sick” reform bill.
John December 17, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I do not need to know him personally, I think he will do his job but at what cost....We do not have a blank check for all this stuff....Can U tell me that this will not happen again, NO, gun laws will not stop it, arming teachers will not stop it, U can toss a stone and break a window to gain access to any school....there are no answers....The system is failing and we have no answers, happy holidays....sad day for us....
Jenn December 17, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Deanna - Just ignore Ric. He is just an anonymous troll looking to get a reaction out of people.
Jenn December 17, 2012 at 09:40 PM
@John - The system is NOT failing. Its just the nature of the beast unfortunately. There are approximately 100,000 public schools in the United States alone and almost 320 million people. Statistically, there are going to be nuts and tragedies. There is no amount of legislation, planning, or anything else you can do to prevent tragedy. And just as the media scares the hell out of everyone in the US with their in depth coverage of an air disaster, they do the same with tragedies such as this. In fact, school shootings are at their lowest point in years. Airline crashes and school rampages are still extremely rare incidents and the actual probability one person will witness or be involved in one is practically zero. Schools are still the safest place for children - even SAFER than your home (more children die of accidental and shooting related deaths in the home than in schools). But yes i agree, no amount of money, preparation, new legislation, or other measures will prevent a similar event in the future. Even the presidents of the United States - the MOST GUARDED men on the planet have been assasinated or had attempts against their lives.
Jenn December 17, 2012 at 09:44 PM
@John - Schools ****ARE**** safe. They are THEE safest place for children period!!!!!! More children are killed in the home due to accidents or accidental shootings. More children are killed on their way to school via motor vehicle accidents. More children are killed on the athletic field. More children are killed riding their bikes around the neighbor and falling. There is no place anywhere that is safer for a child then in a school. The statistics speak for themselves. Just like a lottery with impossible odds - someone will win the prize. Thats a statistical fact and a result of the sheer numbers (millions) playing. Same with schools. Shit will happen - its inevitable. IN FACT!!! Given the number of schools, there is probably a chance a hired police officer or security guard would do the actual shooting! Can you guarantee that 100,000 officers would be 100% safe. Of course not.
Ric December 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM
“Jenn” advice like that coming from an anonymous troll like you who is looking to get a reaction out of people is rich. So did you have a good day teaching or whatever it is that you do? LOL! My advice is to ignore Jenn, she is just an anonymous troll – and not very bright. She could not grasp her words could also apply to her.
Ric December 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM
By the way Jenn, you cannot disagree with what I said so you resort to personal attacks. Everything I said you must agree with. Thanks!
John December 18, 2012 at 12:25 AM
WOW Jenn, you spout that information out like your a teacher.....how about auto accidents and speeding, how many are killed there, yet the speed limit does not stop people from not speeding....We all have to do our part....happy holidays
Ric December 18, 2012 at 02:13 PM
@Paul Seymour. I very much agree with you that more police are needed in Cinnaminson – especially at the schools. It is wrong that our town’s police are bearing the brunt of cost cutting in Cinnaminson but it will be difficult to get more police hired unless there is some saving elsewhere. Many, like me, would point out that the cost of running schools is too high and if we extract cost savings from the school budget we could pay for more officers. From your experience as a Cinnaminson officer where do you think Cinnaminson could cut costs so to hire more police?
Helen Quinn December 18, 2012 at 02:19 PM
How pitiful that this horrific event has prompted some Cinnaminson residents to grandstand their opinions on taxes and salaries. If you are that unhappy, move elsewhere and see what you get for your money. Shame on those who have chosen to turn this incomprehensible event into a self serving opportunity to support your political opinions. God bless the devastated families that have been impacted by this mass killing.
Ric December 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
@HMQ. Welcome to Patch. This is your second post. I apologize but some of us are struggling with taxes. I hope that does not offend your sense of moral superiority. Oh, I have a better idea why don't you move to a town where people are happiest when paying the highest taxes. Isn't that the nirvana of all school and township employees? God bless the devastated families that have been impacted by this mass killing. May tighter gun control laws come out of this.
Reform NJ December 18, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Mr. Seymour, Did you know that Newtown Ct. had two SRO’s and this tragic event still happened! It’s obvious from the information coming out of Sandy Hook that an SRO in that school district or even that school could have done little to prevent that tragedy from happening. Any misrepresentation by you as a professional to make parents in your township think that an SRO would have safeguarded those children or their children is totally irresponsible! I take from your comment that you are no longer an SRO and most likely want that position back so your comments could also be construed as a little self serving. http://www.newtown-ct.gov/public_documents/newtownct_police/Op%20Folder/School%20Resource%20Officer
Reform NJ December 18, 2012 at 02:37 PM
As an SRO just like in Newtown Ct, you most likely were stationed at a high school or middle school and this shooting was at an elementary school so explain to me again how this could have been stopped? The reality is safer schools cost a lot of money, people don’t want their schools to resemble prisons, and the sad fact of the matter is if people want to kill, they are going to kill! Newton Connecticut’s school district is in a wealthy area and from what I am reading, had a lot of safety measures installed including two SRO’s and this killer still shot through a glass door to get in to kill people in minutes! My comment regarding an SRO being a luxury carried by municipal police department budgets still stands. If your school wants a cop in every school, they should pay for it out of their budget! Like in Newtown, I just don’t know what difference it would have made given these sad circumstances.
Reform NJ December 18, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Agreed all things should be looked at but as evident from Newtown Ct who had two SRO’s assigned to their school district, sometimes tragedy’s will still happen. The last thing we want our superintendants or public officials to do is to act hastily with our tax dollars when schools are still statistically the safest places for our children.
Paul Seymour December 18, 2012 at 09:04 PM
@Reform NJ I think the people in Newton would tell you where you could stick your statistics. I also bet they are willing now to fund any measure in the future that helps safe guard their children. You clearly did not read all I wrote. I never said that 100% the SRO would have stopped it. I said "may have" go read it again sir. What I can. Tell you is the presence of no one with a gun when a bad guy comes in shooting up any place makes the odds of stopping him almost 0 that's a fact. So according to you if something is statistically rare no effort should be made to stop it if it cost you tax money. We spend lots of money protecting the president. Assassination are rare but the impact on society is huge. Same with this event. Things don't have to be common to make them worth doing or maybe I just value the lives of children more than you.
Reform NJ December 18, 2012 at 09:44 PM
After the Aurora Colorado shooting, do we now have cops in every movie theater in the country? NO! So your answer is to put $100,000 cops in every school in the country or any other venue there is a similar tragedy? On who’s dime? If it’s the school districts and they can make cuts other places then fine. Just don’t expect local municipalities to fund a cop in every school. Sorry to break it to you SRO Seymour but I just don’t see it happening unless the federal grants come back again to pay for it or the school districts make cuts other places. It is just not realistic, even given the magnitude of what just happened.
Jenn December 19, 2012 at 01:30 AM
The problem folks isnt guns and its not about the lack of SROs or police officers in the schools. The problem in this incident was the complete lack of responsibility of a gun owning parent and a kid who clearly wasnt getting the help that was required. And yes - stats and odds mean everything. Sure they may not make the victims feel better, but the approach and solution to all this needs to be objective and cost effective as well which is esp important considering the whole friggin nation is bankrupt. Btw - CT and NJ both have assault weapon bans in place for those who think that new gun legislation is the solution to everything. Also note the federal assault weapon ban was in place during columbine and other rampages.
Ric December 19, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Jenn, the kid was an adult and that shows how little you know. Nancy, the dead parent was killed because Adam knew she was petitioning the courts for permission to put him into a facility that treats mentally ill people. After killing his mother, he went to the school to take revenge on students she had helped. He thought she loved them more than she loved him. There were no warning signs that he was about to go off. That she was allowed by law to purchase these guns is why this tragedy happened. This just goes to prove assault weapons should be totally banned.
Jenn December 19, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Youre an idiot Ric. Troll.
Ric December 19, 2012 at 02:07 AM
LOL! Poor Jenn. Every time she is proven wrong she goes off on another hissy fit tantrum. Jenn, sorry I won't disgrace myself and hurl names back at you. You can take the low road.
Maury December 19, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Excuse me but I just jump in here. You are saying things that have been disproven in news reports. Maybe you should read the most up to date information then spew your nonsense. You are acting and talking like you know the young man. Let the police do their jobs.
Jenn December 19, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Nicely said Maury. My thoughts exactly.
Ric December 19, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Excuse me Maury for jumping back in. It is a shame that either you or Fox News is wrong. Everything I said came from this story: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/18/fear-being-committed-may-have-caused-connecticut-madman-to-snap/ But I appreciate your trying to help Jenn feel not so bad about herself. That is so nice of you and I equally appreciate you not telling Jenn what she said was wrong. So is Fox News wrong?
John December 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM
We will never know why this person did it, so disputing things about it will just make all angry, so just let it go....I know arming teachers is not the answer....guards or police may have some impact but who knows not me.....
Reform NJ December 19, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Your math is very commonplace for those from the public employees unions and we have all heard it before. If every resident only paid (fill in the blank) more dollars a year, we could get a bigger raise, avoid layoffs, hire more employees, pay for SRO’s, etc! Time and time again voters reject these referendums and will continue to do so except maybe in places like Newtown Ct agreed. You see, not everybody makes six figures a year, owns multiple properties like you and is willing two write a check, or two checks for that matter voluntarily and with a smile for higher taxes. Most of us are strapped, already taxed to death and as Jenn said; our nation is heading towards going bankrupt! Our elected officials need to act but they need to do so responsibly, not emotionally. Good debate and although I disagree with your view of this, I do appreciate it!
Paul Seymour December 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM
@Reform NJ this happened just yesterday. http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Man-Arrested-at-Sandy-Hook-Elementary-in-Virginia-184172411.html See who made the arrest
Reform NJ December 20, 2012 at 11:23 PM
My bad, looks like you make closer to $90,000 among your $100,000 plus making friends but you must admit, you’re kind of an oddity in this regard. Kind of like having no children at your age, another oddity I’m sure. I congratulate you on your duel income, no kids, and three property existences and your success as a business owner but again, you are an oddity. I due applaud your success however so please don’t get me wrong. It’s just most of us parents and grandparents are not as fortunate and don’t share your enthusiasm of volunteering to offer to pay higher taxes. And yes, I am successful but as you guessed, in the private industry. Finally, the arrest looks to be a good one but every police department and school in the country is on heightened watch the week after that shooting so I am not surprised. Let’s hope somewhere between your ideals and mine our lawmakers find a compromise that will work! Take care and Merry Christmas


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