Battle over school safety in Saratoga Springs

Local

Saratoga Springs City Council voted unanimously Monday night to offer to pay 25% of the cost to hire more student resource officers to patrol public schools in the city. 

The Saratoga Springs Board of Education isn’t on board yet though. 

In October, the board of trustees voted 5-4 to disarm ‘grounds monitors’ that were patrolling campuses in the district. Those guards were mainly composed of retired officers. 

Right now, there is only one armed student resource officer for the entire district of more than 4,000 students. 

The city commissioner of public safety wants to add more trained resource officers, but at this point it doesn’t appear the Board of Education wants the help. Below is a statement it released to News 10. 

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE SARATOGA SPRINGS CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION

The Saratoga Springs City School District is committed to creating a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, staff, and visitors. The Board of Education and District Emergency Response Team place a strong emphasis on utilizing a comprehensive approach to school safety. This includes supporting the social and emotional health of all students, maintaining strong partnerships with local law enforcement, ongoing training and drills to prepare for emergency situations, and continuous improvements to our safety and security infrastructure and procedures.

For the past several months, district administration worked with the Board of Education to research the authorization process of qualified individuals to carry firearms on school property while performing their job duties. The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 prohibits anyone from knowingly possessing a firearm on school grounds without proper authorization. In the past, some grounds monitors possessed a firearm on district property without knowing that prior written permission was required from the Board of Education. When district officials determined that the practice was not in compliance with the current law, grounds monitors were instructed not to carry a firearm on school property until proper authorization was obtained.

School district officials and the Board of Education did their due diligence by researching this topic for several months gathering feedback from our partners in law enforcement, our school district insurance carrier, our school district attorney, listening to public comments, learning about best practices from neighboring school districts, and a presentation from the District Emergency Response Team. At the October 9th Board of Education meeting, the Board voted against approving the authorization.

Safety is an underlying theme in everything that we do and the safety and security of students is our number one priority. The Board of Education appreciates the dedication and support of our full-time School Resource Officer who is an active duty, armed City of Saratoga Springs Police Officer. The district also continues to staff both full and part-time grounds monitors who help maintain a safe and orderly environment in and around our schools.

The District is in the process of evaluating our current safety and security procedures, including conducting a risk/threat assessment of all schools by an independent school safety specialist. The District will continue to gather feedback from all stakeholders and will be hosting a school safety community forum in the upcoming months to share the results of the threat assessment and recommendations that the BOE will consider to help improve our overall safety plan. The District appreciates the support that has been offered by the Saratoga Springs City Council and the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors for sharing in the responsibility of insuring that our schools are safe for all students.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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