LMS student reportedly approached by stranger

Update: Oct. 25, 2014

On Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, the Liberty Police Department notified Liberty Central School District officials that the reported incident in which a student said she was approached by a stranger on Oct. 23 has been resolved. Police located the vehicle, spoke to the driver and determined that he was the parent of a Liberty student, and he had been trying to get the attention of his child. The student who reported the incident mistakenly thought the man was calling to her, according to police.

The Liberty Police Department has stated that the incident was not criminal in nature, and no students were in any danger at any time.

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Original article: Oct. 24, 2014

On Friday, Oct. 24, the Liberty Police Department notified school officials that a middle school student reported a man attempted to lure her into his vehicle during afternoon dismissal Thursday in the Liberty High School parking lot.

The student told police she was walking home from school between 3 and 3:05 p.m. when a man who appeared to be Caucasian and between 30 and 35 years whistled at her and told her to get in his vehicle. She said she ran ahead to join a group of friends, and walked the rest of the way with them to her home. The student said she was not physically harmed in any way.

Officers have footage of the incident from the school’s surveillance cameras, and their investigation is ongoing. The car is a blue van. Anyone who has information about this incident, or who has seen anything suspicious, is asked to call the Liberty Police Department at (845) 292-4422.

“The school district’s first priority is always the safety of its students,” said Superintendent William Silver. “We encourage everyone to pay attention to their surroundings and be mindful of some basic safety procedures.”

Dr. Silver offered the following safety tips:

• It is always best to walk to and from school in groups, whether it is with siblings, neighbors or parents.
• Walk against traffic as this makes it harder to be followed. Also, observe all stop signs, traffic lights and crossing guard instructions.
• If approached by a stranger, do not talk to them; instead, run away.
• Children should know safe places within their walk route to and from school that they can run to — whether it is back to school, a store, a friend’s or neighbor’s house, or an open office building.
• Students should talk to an adult — parents, teachers and/or their principal or another staff member — about anything that makes them feel unsafe.

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Phase II capital project not approved, Board to review outcome

Liberty Central School District residents have rejected a $13.6 million capital project proposal to upgrade the high school’s aging infrastructure and to improve safety, instructional technology and energy efficiency.

The proposal failed in a 296 to 211 vote.

“While we are disappointed by the outcome, we appreciate that residents came out to consider this proposal,” Superintendent Dr. William Silver said. “We will be meeting with the Board of Education in the coming weeks to discuss the district’s next steps. The problems identified in this proposal still exist and will eventually need to be addressed.”

In particular, the district is dealing with the high school’s 50-year-old infrastructure. For example, the building’s original brick work, exterior walls and building envelope are crumbling. Also approaching their golden anniversary, the ventilation, rigging and house lighting systems in the auditorium are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws and regulations.

The bleachers in the high school gym do not meet current accessibility standards and have malfunctioning parts worn beyond repair. Because repair components are no longer manufactured, renovation is critical.

If it had been approved, the entire scope of work included in the proposal would have meant a $13 increase in the fall 2017 school tax bill for an average property assessed at $100,000 and receiving an Enhanced STAR exemption. A property with the same assessment, but receiving a Basic STAR exemption would have seen a $25 increase. State building aid would have paid for 78 percent of the costs, and the remainder would have come from the district’s capital reserve fund.

“We recognize that many of our residents are concerned about any level of tax increase. However, as stewards of the district’s facilities, the Board of Education felt it was critical to bring these projects to the community’s attention,” Silver said. “It is our responsibility to ensure our students and staff are in a safe and secure environment. We are very concerned about the building’s exterior condition, as well as the gymnasium bleachers and auditorium theatrical systems, which will only continue to deteriorate over time.”

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Principal Strassman lifts ban on Halloween costumes

Liberty High School is bringing back the tradition of allowing senior students to wear Halloween costumes at school.

“Dress-Up Day was cancelled last year because the costumes had become disruptive to the school day,” Principal Jack Strassman told members of the Board of Education during their Oct. 14 meeting. More than 30 high school seniors had attended that board meeting to ask for Dress-Up Day to be reinstated.

“I’m proud of the way you’ve presented yourselves,” Mr. Strassman told the seniors after they addressed the board. “You’ve voiced your opinions respectfully.”

Mr. Strassman explained that his decision to ban the 2013 Dress-Up Day was prompted by several teacher complaints that students were arriving to class late and distracting their peers.

“Students would pay more attention to the costumes than what was being taught in the classroom,” he said.
There was also a safety element to consider, Mr. Strassman said, explaining that in recent years, students would throw pieces of hard candy, hitting their peers.

Earlier this fall, senior students approached Mr. Strassman with the request to reinstate the tradition, telling him they would be willing to work with the district to ensure Dress-Up Day would not interfere with learning activities or pose a safety hazard.

Following the board meeting, Mr. Strassman discussed the matter with parents, students, teachers and district-level administration and has now agreed to let high school seniors bring costumes to school on Friday, Oct. 31.

“The reason I am allowing the day is because the seniors have presented themselves well and have gone through the proper channels respectfully,” Mr. Strassman said. “They have spoken with teachers, the superintendent and the board of education. I am very proud of the way they are handling themselves.”

Mr. Strassman plans to meet with the seniors again on Monday, Oct. 20, to discuss rules and expectations for Dress-Up Day.

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Firefighters visit school to stress fire safety

Students at Liberty Elementary School received hands-on fire safety lessons from several Sullivan County Fire Departments on Oct. 10 as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

Fire fighters gave a brief overview of their protective clothing, fire truck equipment, and fire safety.

The lesson culminated with a trip through the fire training trailer, designed to teach children how to escape a fire in their home by using theatrical smoke to simulate a fire situation. Students were instructed to “get low and go” by crawling to safety on their hands and knees.

Parents are asked to remember the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home. National Fire Protection Association statistics show that half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. – 7 a.m.

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Sullivan West School District student approached by stranger


On Oct. 1, the village of Liberty Police Department notified the Liberty Central School District that an incident occurred during an afternoon bus run at Sullivan West School District. An unknown person in a white SUV reportedly approached a student after the student exited the bus. The student’s description of the stranger is:

  • White male
  • Gray and black hair
  • Tattoo on his left hand with letters on the fingers

The suspect’s statement to the student was, “Your grandmother told me to pick you up.” The student used safety training and did not enter the car.

The school district’s first priority is always the safety of its students. The district is encouraging parents and guardians to be aware of their surroundings and to reinforce the following safety tips:

  • Run from/do not speak to strangers;
  • Call 911 in case of any emergency or if an unsafe situation occurs; and
  • Do not accept candy, money, gifts, or rides from any adult without a parent’s permission.
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