School safety fo­rum planned

Event sched­uled for Dec. 17

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Paul Post [email protected]­i­tal­first­media.com Re­porter

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Saratoga Springs City Schools will hold a Com­mu­nity Safety Fo­rum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Mon­day, Dec. 17 at the high school teach­ing au­di­to­rium.

The district web­site says a panel of district Emer­gency Re­sponse Team mem­bers will pro­vide an over­view of school safety and se­cu­rity poli­cies, in­clud­ing time for pub­lic ques­tions.

Also, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the New York Schools In­sur­ance Re­cip­ro­cal com­pany will dis­cuss the re­cent se­cu­rity as­sess­ment con­ducted in all school build­ings.

In ad­di­tion, a sum­mary of the school safety sur­vey will be dis­cussed, and the district will share ac­tion steps mov­ing for­ward to con­tin­u­ously im­prove school safety and se­cu­rity.

The pro­gram will in­clude a pub­lic com­ment pe­riod.

Prior to the fo­rum, com­mu­nity mem­bers, in­clud­ing stu­dents, par­ents and school staff are asked to com­plete a pub­lic safety sur­vey, found on the district web­site at www.sarato­gaschools.org/.

In late Oc­to­ber, hun­dreds of an­gry res­i­dents at­tended a school board meet­ing to protest a de­ci­sion, made ear­lier this fall, which pro­hibits build­ing se­cu­rity per­son­nel from car­ry­ing con­cealed firearms.

Stu­dents, par­ents and re­tired law en­force­ment of­fi­cers say valu­able re­sponse time would be lost wait­ing for po­lice to ar­rive if an ac­tive-shooter in­ci­dent oc­curred.

Pro­tes­tors de­liv­ered more than 1,000 pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures, im­plor­ing the board to re­v­erse a 5 to 4 vote, pro­hibit­ing the district’s 14 grounds mon­i­tors from car­ry­ing weapons.

The vote to dis­arm of­fi­cers re­versed a pol­icy that had been in place for about 30 years, with no ap­par­ent in­ci­dents.

Board mem­bers who voted to dis­arm se­cu­rity per­son­nel say hav­ing more guns in schools does not im­prove stu­dent, fac­ulty and staff safety. But many oth­ers dis­agree.

At the Oct. 23 board meet­ing, school Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Pat­ton read a brief state­ment, ex­plain­ing the board’s re­cent course of ac­tion.

The Gun-Free Zone Schools Act of 1990 al­lows guns to be pos­sessed by two groups of peo­ple, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, and oth­ers with writ­ten au­tho­riza­tion. Pre­vi­ously, grounds mon­i­tors didn’t re­al­ize they needed school board per­mis­sion to carry weapons, Pat­ton said.

Af­ter re­search­ing the mat­ter for sev­eral months and ob­tain­ing feed­back from po­lice, the district’s le­gal coun­sel, in­sur­ance car­rier and school emer­gency re­sponse team mem­bers, the board on Oct. 9 voted to not al­lows weapons use by grounds mon­i­tors.

“The out­come of this vote does not im­ply that the board of ed­u­ca­tion or district does not value and sup­port cre­at­ing a safe learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” Pat­ton said. “The district is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ally eval­u­at­ing our [safety] and se­cu­rity plan.”

But this did lit­tle to sat­isfy upset par­ents who ar­gue that most grounds mon­i­tors are re­tired po­lice of­fi­cers, who are highly trained and ca­pa­ble of pro­tect­ing chil­dren.

FILE PHOTO.

A large crowd of about 300 peo­ple turned out for a highly-charged Saratoga Springs City Schools board of ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing in Oc­to­ber.

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