TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – Eastchester and Tuckahoe police personnel joined concerned parents, teachers, administrators and board members at the Tuckahoe Board of Education meeting on Monday night to discuss safety protocols in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school shootings.
The board discussed methods that the district plans to put in place and parents were given a forum to air out their concerns about possible incidents and cracks in security that they have noticed.
School Board President Julio A. Urbina said there is a fine line between beefing up security and taking away some of the liberty students currently enjoy.
“At what level do we want to secure our children and what price will we pay for that safety,” he said. “I’m not just talking about money when I say the price of security. What do we want our kids’ environment to be like? We don’t want to create a prison-like atmosphere for our children.”
Eastchester Police Chief Timothy Bonci said he met with officials in both the Tuckahoe and Eastchester school districts throughout the day Monday. He said many steps are being taken to protect students, although not all of them can be made public for security reasons.
“There are several things in place, but we don’t want the public to know everything we have because that wouldn’t be safe,” he said. “We have increased our police presence and will be patrolling the schools more. We don’t want to say when or how. It’s safer for us and the board to know what we’re doing, but not always the public so much.”
Urbina stressed that security has to start with the parents. He said it was important that they always enter through the front entrance and hand their license over to the front desk without trouble. He also said that doors should no longer be chocked open, and parents should refuse to let anyone in side doors.
The last time there was a security breach, the district cracked down on security, but after a few weeks, they let up on the beefed up efforts.
“The cheapest and least expensive thing we can do is hand over our IDs without giving the people at the front desk a hard time. We can’t just open doors, everyone has to do his part,” he said. “We all have a role to play.”
Bonci agreed with the president, adding that while there is a lot of security for a small school, there can never be enough.
Newtown “is definitely an eye-opener. It makes you reevaluate your own procedures, which is something we should do anyway,” he said. “The school is fairly secure, and we have a good policy in place.”