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Incident prompts security policy changes at Cheektowaga-Sloan

“Unwelcome visitors” during an event near the end of the previous school year has resulted in security changes at the Cheektowaga-Sloan school district, officials said.

Students and teachers were preparing for a school play at John F. Kennedy High School when staff members noticed suspicious individuals with a video camera.

Superintendent Andrea Galenski said the employees approached them and asked why they were in the school.

“They weren’t honest; they said they were videographers and were there for the play to take video of students,” Galenski said.

The men soon “high-tailed it out,” Galenski said. Cheektowaga Police were contacted and the men were eventually found several miles away. A record check revealed that there were warrants for the intruders’ arrests.

The incident, which happened only a few hours after school had recessed for the day, led to a discussion between the district and police, which produced a series of increased safety measures.

School Board President Claire Ferrucci said the district now requires all doors with outside access to be locked during and after instructional hours. “We realize that there may be times when parents have to wait an extra minute or two for a door to be opened,” Ferrucci said. “This is our obligation to keep everyone safe.”

When after-hours events are held, designated individuals will be stationed at doors to greet visitors, and panic buttons with a direct link to Cheektowaga police have been installed in each building.

According to Galenski, district doors will only be open for public meetings; they will be locked for assemblies, concerts, sports events and other district events.