In the aftermath of school shootings across this country during the past few years—and especially the one in Parkland, Florida—our nation’s youths have taken a leadership role as was evidenced last weekend during the massive March For Our Lives. We applaud their courage for taking on the National Rifle Association and the politicians who refuse to challenge that organization.
But more needs to be done to protect our children while they are at school. Recently, a man gained access multiple times and exhibited strange behavior at a school in Whitestone before being asked repeatedly to leave.
On his final visit to the school, he was escorted out by security.
This past week, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and Councilman Paul Vallone called on the city’s Department of Education (DOE) to allow principals to lock the doors during the day while school is in session if they believe it is necessary. Community Education Council 25 is preparing a resolution that will be sent to the schools chancellor and mayor to support such an option.
However, the DOE told CEC 25’s chairman that doors could not be locked in case of an emergency because it could prevent EMS from entering a building. While this is understandable, we agree with Braunstein, Vallone and parents that leaving doors unlocked could lead to an emergency.
As we’ve seen all across the country, shooters have been given easy access to weapons and entry into schools that then become crime scenes. While it is comforting that New York State has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, people who do not belong on school grounds have been able to gain access easily—as was seen recently at PS 184 in Whitestone—more than once.
“Incidents like the one at PS 184 clearly show that our students are not as safe as we think and changes need to be made to make sure that they can learn and grow in the safest environment possible,” Vallone said.
We agree with the councilman. While it is incumbent upon principals to ensure that EMS could gain entry, we believe that security should be strengthened at city schools to prevent members of the public from randomly wandering in.