Parents call for increased security at East Williston school board meeting

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ast Williston parent Brenda Avila called for the installation of metal detectors in all schools in light of recent shootings that have happened elsewhere. (Photo by John Nugent)

BY JOHN NUGENT

Concerns were raised about school security by some parents at the East Williston Board of
Education meeting on Monday.

East Williston parent Brenda Avila called for the installation of metal detectors in all schools in light of recent shootings elsewhere.

“What additional measures can we take to make our students safe?” she asked the board. “I don’t want to worry about my children’s safety.”

Trustee Alan Littman responded that the board has discussed the option of metal detectors in the past.

Board President Mark Kamberg added that while they increase “inside” security significantly, they are not an effective deterrent “outside.”

“We have spent a lot of money on cameras,” said Kamberg.

Kamberg said that the board continues to review measures for providing the most effective security at all its facilities.

Avila asked the board if funding for metal detectors was an issue and suggested private
donations as a way to help with their implementation. Kamberg responded that the district
wants to take the lead in undertaking any expense for increased security but it would be open to a discussion of that idea.

Eighth-grade Wheatley School student Brandon Katz also addressed the board in support of the metal detectors proposal, saying that he and many of his fellow students have become
distracted from their schoolwork because of the many school shootings that have occurred in recent years.

In a later interview, he spoke of an incident at his school that prompted a lockdown of the
building caused by a rumor that a student brought a gun onto the premises. Although the rumor was later found to be a hoax, it caused considerable distress among students, he said.

Another parent called for increased “visual presence” of security personnel and local police at all schools. Kamberg replied that local police will not allocate resources for that as police
departments would not be able to provide the manpower to secure every school in every district.

East Williston resident Eswar Sivoraman questioned the message the board would be sending by placing such tight security around all the schools. He said that students will be living in fear every day and such measures will adversely affect their character development.

“Tell that to the students at Parkland,” Littman said.

“We live in a world that is far different from 5, 10 or 20 years ago,” Kamberg added.

Kamberg read a statement regarding the litigation between the school board and the East
Williston village board over the district’s plan to erect a fence at the North Side School.

He said that the school district intends to appeal the court decision that rejected the
district’s position.

The school board contends that it need not comply with local zoning permit requirements to
proceed with its plan to construct the fence. It cites recommendations and input from community members, the local police, the Department of Homeland Security and the district’s insurance carrier to support its argument for a security barrier.

“We respectfully request the patience of the community as the Board of Education pursues its legal remedies,” Kamberg said.

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