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Comments Before the Board of Education December 17, 2018

Updated: Dec 21, 2018

I would much rather be at home with my family enjoying the evening. Unfortunately, I feel an obligation to continue to press this body to act in the best interest of my and others’ children. There remains no visible urgency to remedy the security shortcomings in our schools and the Board is seemingly fine with the slow pace of action.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen an incident at the High School in which several cars were “keyed” or scratched and just this past weekend, a car window was smashed in the parking lot of Quaker Ridge during the school play. Both of these incidents would have been resolved if we only had security cameras covering the exterior of the school buildings. I have asked the superintendent whether the plan for cameras includes coverage of the exterior of the buildings but have yet to receive a reply. Perhaps you can reply here and now? Perhaps, as Altaris believes, cameras are simply reactive but I have to believe that if the culprit at the high school was a student, he/she would have thought twice if they knew that cameras were recording their illicit activities. I believe that would be referred to as proactive, not reactive, as maintained by our expert security consultant.

For at least the second, perhaps third, time that I have witnessed, Mr. Nabotny has implored the District to handle low-hanging fruit quickly, but qualified that by stating that he didn’t know if they were already doing so. I’m not sure which is worse, that the District is moving slowly on easy improvements or that a member of the Board of Education has no idea whether these items are being addressed. My understanding of a school board is that it represents the public who elects it members. It does not represent the Superintendent, serve to rubber stamp his/her decisions. How can our school board have no idea what progress is being made on security items?

You were not elected to, as it was put to me, “to buy into the District’s approach to security improvements and we will not go back on that.” That’s your job; to continually gather information, evaluate and act in the best interests of our children, not to provide unquestioned support to the District Administration. Don’t you know that this District does not employ a single person with security experience or training? You are relying on laypeople to make decisions on a specialized topic and you just don’t seem to care enough to do anything about that. You have not called upon any members of the community who are experts in the field. They are here, ready, willing and able but you have no interest in including them in the process. The District is more worried that a parent will reveal confidential security information, than they are in co-opting that parent to assist. Do we really think that security experts are going to publicize confidential information when it is their very profession not to do so? Not to mention that this also assumes they will release information to the detriment of their own children. Think about that for a minute. It is ludicrous but this Board is fine with the situation which could be improved at no cost! The District, for its part, is seemingly more focused on controlling the narrative than in implementing the best solutions.

I’d like to mention an email exchange that we had with the Superintendent regarding a parent. This parent reached out to our group regarding the high school being open and unattended during all-county band practice. Unfortunately, the majority of the exchange was spent by Dr. Hagerman telling us that he would respond only to that parent and not to us. Apparently, that was the proper way of doing things and form was far more important than function. That parent was not the only parent to reach out to us yet Dr. Hagerman refused, and continues to refuse, to respond to that inquiry. A question by a parent, any parent, has sufficient legitimacy to expect a truthful answer, period.

Finally, Dave Brown has been complaining about the lack of effective access control at Quaker Ridge for the past year, perhaps more. During that time, no new measures have been implemented. I personally approached the front door from the cafeteria side, kept my face turned to the parking lot and rang the bell over my shoulder. I was immediately admitted with no concern for my identity of intentions. For God sakes, a $200 Ring doorbell would greatly improve this situation! A secretary can ask who you are or what you are doing at the school, BEFORE opening the door. Does it really take committees and security experts to spend $200 on a video doorbell that many of us have in our homes? Where is the focus? Where is the priority?

Stop kicking the can down the road and deferring to and waiting for the District Administration. Fix the problems, now!

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