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Safety First at Falmouth Public Schools

Paul StefanelliSuperintendent of Schools Lori S. Duerr is pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Stefanelli as the district’s new school safety coordinator. In his position, which he began on August 5, Mr. Stefanelli will oversee a team of seven school safety monitors - one for each school in the district. The goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for learning.

“The steps we are taking to keep our schools safe is a proactive approach,” Duerr said. 

While the position is new, the environment is familiar to Stefanelli, who recently retired after a 30-year career in law enforcement, having spent the last ten as a court officer with the Falmouth Police Department. Prior to joining FPD, he served as a detective for the Southbridge Police Department, where he worked for two decades. 

“Paul comes very highly recommended by Chief (Edward) Dunne and Captain (Brian) Loewen of FPD,” Duerr said. “I believe he is going to be an asset to Falmouth Public Schools, and a great fit for this role.”

Dunne highlighted Stefanelli’s dedication to the community during his tenure at the department.

“We were fortunate to have Paul work for us, and his retirement came at just the right time, so I really felt he'd be the right candidate for the schools,” Dunne said. “Considering his career, he will be great to have as a director to give guidance to the safety monitors at each school.”

While FPD will maintain its relationship with FPS, and police officers will continue to visit the buildings at designated times, Dunne credited the district’s initiative to create specific roles focused on safety.

“This isn’t going to be a second job for anyone,” he said. “Having someone in the schools whose only task is to be a dedicated set of eyes and ears for the police will be beneficial for all.”

Mr. Stefanelli underscored the need for such a designation, adding that his biggest concern is unsecured doors, which will be addressed as he works with each principal on the needs and logistics of every building. 

“As with anything, people may be paying attention to what’s going on, but their main focus isn’t on safety and security, it’s what their particular job happens to be. Having someone to monitor every building will be a benefit to the students and staff,” Stefanelli said. 

School committee members William Dorfner and Melissa Keefe served on the interviewing committee, and both feel Mr. Stefanelli’s experience in law enforcement, particularly in Falmouth, make him uniquely suited for the position. 

“When it comes to communication, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. He already understands the climate of our community, for example, the tragic shooting in North Falmouth last year, resulting in a lockdown at North Falmouth Elementary School,” Keefe said. 

“We need to keep our children, staff, and buildings safe, and unfortunately, with the times we’re living in, it’s not good enough to do what we’ve always done. We need a fresh sets of eyes to take a look at our buildings and policies.”

She speaks not only as a school committee member but as a mother of two FPS students. 

“I need to be confident knowing that I’m sending my own personal children to a place where they’ll be safe,” she said. 

Dorfner agreed.  

“We can put all the protocols for safety in place, but if nobody is actually monitoring the buildings to make sure they’re being followed, those policies are worthless. When it comes to the safety of our children, there is no margin for error,” he said. 

“Our responsibility is to make sure we return our children home safely, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that.”

Sarah E. Murphy