City School District of the City of Niagara Falls

Learning For All...Whatever It Takes

  • Spt. Mark Laurrie


    From Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie - March 2024 

    "Our hearts are broken; our spirit is not. This is a Promise. To turn the conversation into actions. Things must change. This is our PromiseThe Sandy Hook Promise."

         On Friday, December 14, 2012, tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, when a shooter took the lives of 20 children, all ages six or seven, and six adults. Grieving family members wanted to act to honor the lives lost and worked to prevent future school shooting tragedies. The group formed The Sandy Hook Promise and analyzed every mass attack and school shooting to learn the causes of gun violence and how to recognize behaviors that are red flags of possible school violence. In their research, the Sandy Hook Promise members learned that warning signs precede every attack, and thus they created the Know the Signs violence prevention program and the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS).

         Because the safety of our students inside and outside of our schools is paramount, the Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD) has pledged to honor the Sandy Hook Promise to "educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities." The District is in the process of implementing the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS). Say Something teaches youth how to recognize warning signs and threats in social media, in school, and in the community from individuals who may be a risk to themselves or others and say something to a trusted adult, use the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS), or call 911.

         The reporting process is straightforward. The person with the tip (the tipster) submits it using the SS-ARS app, website, or hotline. SS-ARS has its own crisis center that vets, triages, categorizes, and delivers tips to school teams or 911 for life-threatening situations. Once school teams have the tip, the groups assess the concern and provide support and intervention if needed.

         To begin the process in the NFCSD, school principals had to identify their building-level response teams by February 15, 2024. Teams consist of administration and school resource officers. By March 5, 2024, all teams had to be trained, including responding appropriately to a “Tip Test.”

         The NFCSD Say Something Anonymous Reporting System student training begins for the District's secondary schools only (Gaskill, LaSalle, and Niagara Falls High School) on April 9, 2024. Students will learn how to use the program and will learn about the warning signs to look out for and about how to and what to report. Here are just a few of the concerns the instructors will ask the students to look out for:

    •  Anger Issues
    • Depression/Anxiety
    • Cutting/Self-Harm
    • Intent to Harm Someone
    • Physical Abuse
    • Planned Fight / Assault
    • Planned School Attack
    • Social Isolation/Withdrawal
    • Suicide/Suicide Ideation
    • Verbal Abuse
    • Weapon(s)

          Student training will be completed by April 23, 2024 and the SS-ARS will be fully up and running at that time.

         Our students are often the first and only ones who know that a peer is struggling with mental illness or is making threats to commit acts of violence. Now, with SS-ARS, they can report their concerns anonymously without a return email address or caller ID, giving their identities away. They will also have a trusted adult to listen to them during school hours and also after when District staff is not readily available.

         The NFCSD is proud to be a part of The Sandy Hook Promise. Let's stop the violence before it even starts. It's another tool in our toolkit of safety measures we have in place for your children.  




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