ImOctober 30, 2017
On October 12, Brewster Central School District was informed about an alleged inappropriate relationship between a staff member and a highschool student. As student safety is our chief concern, we immediately notified the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, which began an investigation. The staff member was prohibited from having any contact with students during the investigation. Today, we were informed that Chief Christopher Vlangas, the high school’s naval science instructor and marching band advisor employed in the District since 2015, has been arrested. The restriction against contact with students and his presence on school property remains in effect. We are deeply disturbed and saddened by these allegations. As a district, we continue to cooperate fully with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, which established a 24-hour hotline for anyone with information to share regarding this matter. The 24-hour hotline number is 845-808-4377.
Our counseling team at Brewster High School has been meeting regularly with students. In addition, they are using a process called Restorative Circles, which is based upon restorative justice training that they recently received. Restorative circles help students and staff to have productive discussions about what they are feeling relative to a difficult situation. To date, it has been helpful and will continue throughout the school year. Counselors Giancarlo Mejia at the high school, and Helga Cluzet who serves JFK Elementary, CV Starr Intermediate and HH Wells Middle School are available to students. Please call each school to speak with them. In addition, web-based resources are available through the National PTA that offer helpful guides for parents.
During situations such as this one, social media can become a platform for angry rants and personal attacks. In the wake of this news, some adult and student behaviors have been disappointing. We urge parents to discourage their children from engaging in malicious gossip using social media as our digital footprints never go away. What is written today may come back to haunt our children in the future, affecting their work and college opportunities. Please rely upon the facts shared by the District, which are carefully coordinated with law enforcement and legal counsel.
Given that this new information is likely to attract media attention in the District, we will be on a Lockout tomorrow, October 31, which means that we will not have outside recess or physical education classes. A Lockout is used to secure school buildings and grounds during incidents that pose an imminent concern outside of the school. As this situation unfolds, we may need to periodically use Lockouts if we suspect that media may be in the vicinity.
Thank you for your cooperation during this difficult time for students, staff and parents.