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Long IslandEducation

LI educators to be trained on crisis response

Anthony Pantaleno, psychologist at John Glenn High School

Anthony Pantaleno, psychologist at John Glenn High School in the Elwood school district, organized crisis prevention training. (June 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

School psychologists and staff from across Long Island will receive training this week on how to respond to any crisis in a school community, as a backup team to help students, educators and parents cope in an emergency.

The first of four workshops of the Prepare Crisis Prevention and Intervention Curriculum, created by the National Association of School Psychologists, is scheduled for Wednesday at the Western Suffolk BOCES conference center in Wheatley Heights. About 100 school psychologists from Nassau and Suffolk counties are expected to attend.

Anthony Pantaleno, psychologist at Elwood / John Glenn High School in the Elwood school district, organized the training in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in October and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators on Dec. 14.

Pantaleno said he recognized a need to train psychologists and other staff in emergency preparedness.

"What I was hoping is that we would have a Long Island response team -- hopefully never having to use it -- but have it available to any district that has that type of a need," he said.

The curriculum, released in March 2006, has been taught in 30 states and in Canada to nearly 3,000 school psychologists and other school and community professionals. Its purpose is to build the capacity of schools at the local level to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from crisis events, organizers said.

Amanda B. Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University of Buffalo's Graduate School of Education, will lead the training. Participants can choose to attend another two-day session in September.

Wednesday's training focuses on crisis prevention and preparedness, Nickerson said. The prevention aspect covers physical and psychological safety measures, such as whether doors are properly secured and whether students are comfortable reporting a potential threat to themselves or anybody else.

Organizers also will train crisis teams of mental health professionals who can respond in an appropriate and uniform way to an emergency.

The training falls under the state's Dignity Act requirement, said Susan Kessler, administrator for student support services at Western Suffolk BOCES. That law, which went into effect last year, requires that all employees of a public school district be trained to recognize bullying or harassing behavior and how to intervene.

Looking ahead, Pantaleno spoke of a wished-for outcome. "After this training," he said, "what I want to be able to do is . . . with one email blast at 9 a.m., I can have 50 or 70 people, trained in the same curriculum, on-call should the district request it."


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