South Orangetown Central School District

Sent via ParentSquare on October 12, 2023

Dear SOCSD Families,

The devastating images and reports from the terrorist attacks in Israel and the ensuing war have been overwhelming. The depth and scale of suffering by innocent civilians across the war zone is incredibly distressing and unfathomable. I know that we have students, staff, family and community members who are deeply affected by this crisis and may have loved ones in the region; they are in our thoughts.

Our schools are challenged by the impact of what is happening around the world every day. We focus on promoting empathy, respect and a welcoming, inclusive school culture for all. Our educators are trained to facilitate age-appropriate conversations about troubling crises and current events. Our School Support Teams are on-site in every building to support students who may be struggling.

You may be aware of the recent news regarding non-specific potential threats related to the current war in Israel and Gaza. Our District is in regular contact with the Orangetown Police Department. Although there are no active, credible threats to our area, OPD will be increasing its presence in our community and around our schools and continuing to monitor public safety with local, state and federal authorities.

The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff remain our first priority:

If your child is experiencing fear, stress or anxiety related to the traumatic events in Israel and Gaza, please contact their school counselor. Contact information is posted on our Mental Health webpage, as well as on the Help Card students received in school on Tuesday.

Resources to help families talk with their children are available through UNICEF (How to Talk to Your Child about Conflict and War), Common Sense Media (Explaining the News to Our Kids) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (How to Talk With Kids About Tragedies & Other Traumatic News Events).

We strongly encourage you to limit and monitor your children’s internet and social media use. Graphic images and misinformation about the war are flooding social media. Please discuss the dangers of social media and its potential impact with your children. There is always a concern that individuals and groups, particularly those with violent, extremist ideologies, may use social media to advance their agendas.

What social media users should look for and report:

  • Explicit calls for violence or harm towards any group or individual;
  • Open dialogue that appears to glorify violence or harm towards any group or individual;
  • Attempts to recruit or radicalize individuals using the conflict as a driver;
  • Suspicious activities that might suggest planning or preparing for violent actions;
  • Misinformation campaigns designed to incite hatred and violence; and,
  • Behavior changes in individuals, such as sudden radicalization or increased affinity with extremist ideologies.

What social media users should do–and not do:

  • Do not engage online: If you come across extremist content or recruitment attempts online, avoid engaging or confronting the individuals directly.
  • Report: Document and report any terrorist activity to local law enforcement.
  • Stay informed: Ensure information is from reputable sources that prioritize facts and credible sources over sensationalist claims. Encourage others to do the same.
  • Educate: Share knowledge about the dangers of misinformation, the importance of critical thinking and using credible sources for news and information.

The timely reporting of any concerns related to school safety to your child’s principal or Orangetown Police Department is vitally important. Principals are available to respond during school hours; contact numbers are listed on our Help Cards and website. Orangetown Police Department is available 24/7 at (845) 359-3700. This information is also published in our Guide to the School Year.

Any threat to our District is treated seriously. Actions to address potential threats are taken in close consultation with law enforcement. All threats, regardless of their nature, come with significant consequences–including instances where such statements are made jokingly or are deemed not credible.

Once again, should your child or family need support, please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor or an administrator. We are here to help.


Brian Culot, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools