Recently, the Assembly Minority Task Force on School Safety & Security (task force), which was formed to collect feedback from stakeholders across the state in response to the increased acts of violence in schools, and to effectively address measures to keep our children and educators safe while on school grounds, hosted its first of five regional forums on Long Island.
The Long Island Forum, hosted by Assemblyman Doug Smith at St. Joseph’s University in Patchogue, was designed to collect feedback from education professionals, mental-health experts, parents, law-enforcement officials and other community stakeholders in New York state to assist the Conference with suggestions and solutions to improve school safety and security.
“School safety and security continue to be a major priority for me, my colleagues and many other state and local officials in New York,” said Assemblyman Smith (R,C,I-Holbrook), a co-chair of the task force and former math teacher. “By coming together to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of day-to-day and annual operations in our school facilities, we can better protect our children from whatever threats they may face while on school grounds. As a parent, teacher and legislator, I am proud to be part of this effort and am eager to hear firsthand from those dealing with these issues what seems to work, what doesn’t and where improvements can be made.”
“The most strategic way to improve public policy is with information, collaboration and strategy. That is the task force’s goal with these school safety and security forums,” said Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda), a co-chair of the task force and former member of law enforcement. “With insight from principal stakeholders – particularly school personnel, law enforcement, first responders and parents – I am confident we will better be able to address this important topic. I look forward to continuing to work with them, and hearing about their ‘best practices,’ as we continue to cultivate a better, safer New York in the hopes of giving parents peace of mind when their children go to school each day.”
“As past president of Community Education Council 31 for New York City public schools, I worked tirelessly to improve the safety of our school children and educators. It is tragic that acts of violence continue to infiltrate schools and terrorize students and teachers, but air-tight preparation, planning and communication will ensure the path to progress,” said Assemblyman Mike Reilly (R,C-Staten Island), a co-chair of the task force and former lieutenant with the NYPD. “These forums represent an important step in that preparation and by verifying school officials, first responders and parents are on the same page, I am confident, together, we will identify ways to better secure our school buildings and infrastructure.”
“What we have seen in recent months and years at schools across the country has been utterly devastating,” said Assemblyman Dave McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick). “We must do whatever it takes to ensure every conceivable measure that can be deployed to keep our kids safe is in place. The stakes are simply too high not to do so, and I am proud to be a part of the effort to protect our most valuable asset – our children.”
“We must support educators and school staff with the resources they need to ensure a healthy learning environment for all students,” said Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown). “Allowing for an open and honest dialogue between stakeholders at the local and state level, at forums like this, will help identify strategies that are effective in keeping our schools safe. Ultimately, we understand that this is not a one size fits all approach in New York and we must adapt to meet the unique needs of each school district and surrounding community.”
“We are here to demonstrate our commitment to providing children with what they need – a safe and productive learning environment,” said Assemblyman John Mikulin (R,C-Bethpage). “Students’ learning cannot be allowed to be disrupted by chronic disruptions, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to interact and listen to the parents, educators and first responders here, today, has been insightful and meaningful. I am confident that the task force’s efforts will have a tremendous impact on students’ social, mental and academic needs and help prevent crises in our classrooms.”
“From the moment a child steps on the bus in the morning until they are reunited with their family at the end of the day, their safety is a top priority among administrators, teachers, first responders and parents. As a parent and elected official, I’m happy to be a part of today’s discussion in Patchogue,” said Assemblyman Michael Durso (R-Massapequa Park). “It is quite clear, school districts must be given the resources and tools needed to implement best-practice safety and security standards. As legislators, it is our job to make sure they get what they need.”
“If there is one thing I’ve learned from this evening’s discussion, it’s that we must provide educators and schools with the resources necessary to implement safety and security initiatives. In some instances, they’re learning as they go and modifying others’ best practices to suit their individual district’s needs – these things take time,” said Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo (R,C,I-Sayville). “I commend the education professionals and first responders for working together to develop a strategic plan that ensures a safe learning and teaching environment for students and staff.”
The next forum will take place on Thursday, Oct. 20 from 6 – 8 p.m., at Public School 8, located at 112 Lindenwood Road, Staten Island, NY 10308, hosted by Assemblyman Michael Tannousis.
At the conclusion of the forums, a report including a summary of findings and targeted solutions will be generated and brought to the Legislature and presented to the governor. For more information about the task force, contact the Assembly Minority Office of Public Affairs at 518-455-5073.