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MCSD’s security team: handling crisis situations with care

Dec. 15, 2015

Monticello Central School District’s security team will be learning new techniques designed to prevent disruptive situations within the school community from escalating into a crisis.
Nelson Quinones, Monticello Central School District's director of security, poses with his certification
The district’s director of security, Nelson Quinones, recently completed a three-day training program with Handle With Care Behavior Management System, a Gardiner, New York based company that focuses on crisis intervention and behavior management.
According to its website, Handle With Care (HWC) is committed to teaching staff how to deal with a variety of student behaviors in a way that preserves each student’s dignity, is safe and enables continued positive learning and behavioral development. Its trainers work with a diverse range of organizations and staff positions, including school resource officers, staff members of special education programs and elementary, middle and high school staff.

“While we don’t often see a situation where staff must physically intervene, we want to be proactive in ensuring that our district’s staff is equipped with the tools they need to safely manage any behavior that could jeopardize the safety of any student or staff member,” Superintendent Tammy Mangus said.

Using preventative measures such as verbal de-escalation, conflict resolution and tension-reducing techniques, staff who are trained in this method are able to decrease the need for physical intervention.

“It’s fascinating because there really is a discipline involved with being calm and being able to assess the situation before reacting. It takes patience,” Mr. Quinones said.

Two out of the three days of training included lessons on learning how to listen and assess situations using calming techniques, such as using a low voice and a non-threatening demeanor. On the final day, the training included safe restraint techniques, which Mr. Quinones said are a very small part of the program and always used as a last resort.

The restraint techniques taught through the HWC program are designed to protect the student, staff and others without causing pain or injury. According to HWC’s website, the interventions are designed to ensure confidence and safety while maintaining the dignity of the student.

“A lot of times, students in crisis mode have a lot going on that we may not know about,” Mr. Quinones said. “Some may have not eaten, maybe their parents are fighting at home, maybe they’re cold because they don’t have a coat – there are so many things that could be happening as a catalyst. Learning these techniques can help staff and teachers be more sensitive to a student’s needs.”

“Student safety is the district’s number one priority,” Superintendent Mangus said. “Even during a crisis, our students need to be protected and treated with dignity. I’m confident that the HWC training will help our security staff continue to manage critical situations safely.”

Now that Mr. Quinones is a certified instructor, he will train MCSD’s entire security team in the upcoming weeks.

“I’m very excited to teach HWC to my staff,” Mr. Quinones said. “It’s such a valuable program, and it’s so important to understand each student’s needs. We’re blessed because we already have a security team where being friendly with the students is the norm. I appreciate having the chance to do this.”