Queens Lawmakers Lobby For New School Safety Changes

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The Department of Education would review a rule restricting principals to lock school doors during the day after some Queens lawmakers suggested changing it.

“Nothing is more important than the safety our of schools, and our close partnership with the NYPD ensures all schools buildings are secure. We have detailed safety protocols and procedures in place that are in the best interest of the school community,” said DOE Spokesperson Miranda Barbot.

City Council Member Paul Vallone
Assembly Member Edward Braunstein

Both City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) and State Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone) advocated late last month that the city agency allow principals to shut doors after the Parkland shooting in mid-February.

“Granting public school principals this same authority to confirm whether or not an individual represents a threat before allowing them into a school could prevent dangerous incidents from taking place. It is a change we must consider,” Braunstein said.

Schools already lock all their doors and set up alarms except the front, which is monitored by school safety agents. Yet, since February, other incidents have heightened fears of a potential incident in Queens. Last month, a 26-year-old male entered PS 184 two times that caused parents to wonder what could be done to protect their children. At Mayor Bill de Blasio’s previous town hall in Jackson Heights, there were questions on what could be done to avoid school shootings.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

The offices of State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills and Blissville) and State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Woodside, Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale, Ridgewood, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel, the Rockaways) both signaled support for the proposal as well. It is notable as Nolan chairs the Assembly’s Education committee, while Addabbo is a ranking member of the State Senate’s Education committee.

Addabbo elaborated his support by noting current DOE policy allows any person to “enter our public schools and make their way through the building.”

“As the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee, I am working towards seeing our public schools follow the example set forth by our private and religious schools, by locking the doors from the outside during school hours. The safety of our schoolchildren is of utmost importance, and this minor change would make schools much safer,” he said.