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Heights Parents, BOE Putting School Safety First

A group of parents has come forward looking to work with the school board, police and local officials to find ways to make the schools safer for their children following the Newtown tragedy.

Parents and school board members came together Thursday night in complete agreement that school safety is the top priority facing the district right now. 

The topic dominated discussion at the Board of Education meeting as members of a newly-formed parent group Hasbrouck Heights Parents for Safe Schools came forward expressing the extreme need to put safety first and their willingness to work with the board, police and local officials to help do whatever it takes.

"We all agree school is an extension of our homes and people should not have to feel scared to drop their kids off at school every day," said parent Denise Eggert. She stressed that one can not think what happend in Newtown can't happen here pointing to the numbers of public school shootings that have occured year to year.

The district is currently in the process of having an outside consultant conduct an assessment of its facilities and current security measures which will then be used towards making the improvements the district will need to implement, Mark Porto, superintendent explained.

Since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Porto, school board members and administrators immediately took action towards initial measures they could put in place.

Some immediate changes were made which include the placement of a staff member at main entrance of all schools to oversee visitors and limiting the time for which parents can drop off items to their children.

Rinke, who is a Hasbrouck Heights Police sergeant, said the chief has also directed police officers to stop in the school buildings as part of their regular patrol of the area as just one of the many safety measures being enforced. 

Police presence in schools was favored by many parents including one man who said telling his daughter that he will make an effort to get a police officer in her school building was the only thing that calmed the 6-year old down after learning about the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The parent group is pushing for a community meeting on the safe schools subject to which Porto says will definitely take place once the assessment is completed.  He reassured parents he will present all their suggestions to the consultants so they will be taken into consideration.

All school activities will be taken into account including the afterschool KEYS program, and evening and weekend activities that take place at the school buildings, Porto said.

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