NYC schools to ramp up safety protocols for new academic year

1 month ago 12

The New York City Department of Education is ramping up safety protocols for the new school year, The Post has learned.

The new measures range from new technology and prototypes, to increased school safety staffers — and come after violence in the Big Apple put schools on lockdown in the spring.

“We’ve met with triple digit numbers of vendors around different safety enhancements and applications that they recommend that we use to fortify our safety in our schools,” Mark Rampersant, security director at the DOE, told parents this week.

Rampersant, at the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, introduced an internal application for real-time emergency notifications between principals and parents.

“We heard from parents around notification, and timeframe by which you get notified by your schools when something like a lockdown, shelter-in-place or an evacuation transpires,” he said. “We heard you when you said principals need to do a better job of making notification.”

The application also allows Schools Chancellor David Banks to contact families, and can be used for weather emergencies like snow days.

The DOE is also introducing a prototype so the public schools can lock their front doors, while giving first responders access to the building in case of emergency. 

City officials began to seriously consider bolting the main entryways after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers this spring.

“We believe that we have a prototype that we are introducing to our schools as we write new policy regarding what it looks like to actually lock the front doors,” Rampersant said.

The DOE is also investing in personnel, including $9 million in federal stimulus funds to put volunteer violence interrupters from local nonprofits on the city’s payroll.

“We thought fitting, why would we not employ these folks and bring them into our schools to help us ensure the safety and security for our students, staff and our visitors?” said Rampersant.

NYC officials began to seriously consider bolting the main entryways after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.NYC officials began to seriously consider bolting the main entryways after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.Steve White for the New York Post

Meanwhile, a second class of school safety agents under the Adams administration will graduate later this month, adding 200 staffers in time for reopening. After that, another 250 will go into the academy for 17 weeks of training, he said.

Greg Floyd, the president of Teamsters Local 237, which represents the city’s school safety agents, estimated the current class is closer to 175 agents — and does little to add more hands on deck systemwide.

“I’m sure about 175 may have retired since the school year ended,” said Floyd, who gets retiree reports on a 2-3 month delay. “You go through the math with people who don’t know the math — and it’s good that you have another class — but you don’t say how many people retired.”

Floyd gauged that there is still a 2,000-agent shortage, compared to the workforce’s numbers pre-pandemic and the height of the movement to defund police.

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He added that all agents were required to take active shooter trainings in the wake of the Texas mass school shooting.

“That’s new,” Floyd said. “But what they really need is help now — not for an active shooter. They need help for everyday weapon prevention.”

Thousands of weapons were recovered in the public schools last school year, which Banks attributed to students’ concerns about their safety on their way to and from the school buildings.

Floyd also questioned the timing of the announcements and not yet looping in the school safety agents, with the first day of school just around the corner.

“All I hear is ‘we’re looking at,’ ‘we’re looking at.’ But I don’t see the results of ‘looking at,’ and school’s going to start,” he said.

The Department of Education will have more to share soon, officials said, adding that schools and families will be the first to know about new protocols.

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