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Schools November 27, 2008  RSS feed

CEC 32 Briefed On School Safety Protocols

Safety Agents, Suspensions Discussed
story and photos by Sam Goldman

School Safety Administrator Dr. Jay Findling narrates a PowerPoint presentation on school safety at CEC 32's November meeting. School Safety Administrator Dr. Jay Findling narrates a PowerPoint presentation on school safety at CEC 32's November meeting. Members of Community Education Council District 32 got an overview of the Department of Education's security protocols at the council's Nov. 20 meeting at Bushwick's I.S. 296.

School Safety Administrator Dr. Jay Findling, of the Brooklyn Integrated Service Center, used a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to elaborate. He was joined by NYPD School Safety Supervisor Gary Glover.

"Do you know who's responsible for school safety?" he asked the crowd. After a few answers, one parent correctly answered "everyone."

By "everyone," Findling included parents, teachers, students, administrators (both at the school and at ISCs), the NYPD and School Safety agents, DOE legal departments (responsible for changing school policy), local businesses that cater to students and communitybased organizations such as afterschool programs.

I.S. 296 students Amanda Tulloch (second from left) and Isaias Gonzalez (third from left) received Student of the Month awards from CEC 32. Tulloch received her award for community service, while Gonzalez got his for academic achievement. Also in the photo, from left to right, are I.S. 296 Assistant Principal Robert Young, CEC 32 President Abiodun Bello, Principal Maria Barreto (holding an award for Carlos Rodriguez, who was not in attendance) and Assistant Principals Andrew Vaughn and Michael Braster. I.S. 296 students Amanda Tulloch (second from left) and Isaias Gonzalez (third from left) received Student of the Month awards from CEC 32. Tulloch received her award for community service, while Gonzalez got his for academic achievement. Also in the photo, from left to right, are I.S. 296 Assistant Principal Robert Young, CEC 32 President Abiodun Bello, Principal Maria Barreto (holding an award for Carlos Rodriguez, who was not in attendance) and Assistant Principals Andrew Vaughn and Michael Braster. School principals, however, are at the center of things. "The principals are definitely the person that makes decisions" about school safety, Findling stated. "We're all here for the principals."

Findling then expounded on the role the DOE's Integrated Service Centers play in school safety.

The ISCs have five different departments that deal in various ways with the well-being of students: Prevention and Planning ("teams that do nothing but sit and plan for the ways to support schools," he described), Safety and Security, Research and Information Management (which helps schools track data and make decisions on safety-related topics), Suspensions and Healing (which administers punishments for bad student behavior) and Interagency Collaborations.

Findling's job, he noted, includes generating reports to the DOE on school safety issues, seeking and approving school safety plans from school principals, offering training sessions to teachers and faculty on everything from gang awareness to cyber-bullying, mediating complaints from parents, teachers and faculty, and coordinating responses to security crises.

An example of the latter, he noted, was an incident on Jun. 17 when a armed man sought by police for a robbery sought to evade authorities by running into P.S. 108 in Cypress Hills.

"That's the kind of thing that I will respond to," said Findling.

The man was found in the school's third-floor bathroom and arrested by police.

CEC 32 President Abiodun Bello asked Findling who parents should talk to if they have school safety concerns; Findling stated "that the first place you go is directly to the school principal."

"However, there are other places to go," he noted, specifically to the District Superintendent, which in District 32's case would be Lillian Druck.

He also asked if principals have their own safety protocols; Findling stated that "99 percent of protocols are universal," as the DOE's School Code of Discipline must be followed.

CEC member Jacqueline D'Anjou-Parchment asked Glover who was responsible for safety in the area immediately surrounding the schools.

Glover, noting that most violent crime occurs not inside but immediately outside school grounds, said that local police precincts usually have the responsibility to patrol the areas around the schools.

He added that the NYPD and School Safety officers have several different programs designed to ensure the safety of students traveling to and from their school, including a "safe passage" initiative that clears a path for students getting to bus or train stations.

CEC member Elizabeth Rodriguez asked Findling and Gary Glover about protocols for school safety agents, including discipline for unruly agents.

"We feel that moving one agent from one school to another is not solving the problem," she told him.

While preferring not to comment on any specific situation, Glover stated that the agents have a union whose contract requires an investigation into any incident.

"Every agent is entitled to a defense," he told her, adding that agents are evaluated and monitored on an ongoing basis.

"I expect my agents to be professional," Glover would say later, adding that agents are trained regularly and rotated from school to school to make sure "that the supervisor doesn't get too close to the people" and fall into a "comfort zone."

When asked about gangs in schools, Findling stated unequivocally that "there's no community in New York City that doesn't have gangs that exist, and there's no school in New York City—public or private—that can say that they don't have kids who are affected by gangs."

While parents can claim that their child isn't involved in a gang, he noted, "those kids have to walk home."

One parent asked about the DOE's policy on school suspensions, noting that after an altercation involving their child and a fellow classmate, the classmate was suspended yet was still spotted in school the following day.

Findling explained that state law now prohibits students from staying home; instead they are sent into a school suspension program at their place of learning. "They're not going to disappear and go into another building," he informed the crowd.

Parents must be notified by law if their child is suspended; if the child was a victim of violence, they are usually notified if their aggressor is suspended.

"It takes an extremely serious incident to move a child from one school to another," he added. "Having said that, parents should be aware of what measures their school wants to take."

Dates of note

Druck, in her Superintendent's Report, noted that there will be a Middle School Fair at I.S. 291, located at 231 Palmetto St. in Bushwick, on Thursday, Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

An Information Fair for parents of pre-school special education students will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at P.S. 145, located at 100 Noll St. near the Bushwick/East Williamsburg border.

The next meeting of CEC 32 will take place on Dec. 18 at P.S. 384, located at 242 Cooper St. in Bushwick. Representatives from the School Construction Authority are scheduled to attend.