Last week, the heroes of the Paterson Police Department and the Paterson School Security Department identified and thwarted a credible threat on a particular Paterson elementary school. Days later, these same agencies quickly responded to Eastside High School to investigate another event which led to a lengthy lockdown.
Thank goodness all students and staff were not harmed.
It has been well documented that these incidents are becoming more and more prevalent in American society. Schools nationwide are beginning to now budget for added security, metal detectors, professional locking devices for interior school doors, among many other added protections. Yes, this new budgeting reality is not a small expense, but many school districts recognize that one cannot place a price on student or employee safety.
Here in Paterson, last week’s events should prove to be a real life teachable moment. There are many upgrades that the Paterson Public Schools must make to ensure the safety of all students and employees. In the future, I would like to see the District pay for keys for ALL classroom doors. More than that, I would like for the District to invest in electronic doors, metal detectors, and professional style locking devices for all doors within each school building.
Years ago, who would have thought that a local board of education would need to choose between purchasing basic student necessities versus keys for all employees to lock a classroom door? It is apparent that the Union and the District have many areas by which we disagree. I am certain that one area where we can always find common ground is student and employee safety. Thus, I implore the Paterson Public Schools to conduct a full review of each school’s lockdown policy and seek outside grants to pay for any necessary security upgrades deemed appropriate to provide added safety for all of our students and employees. One cannot place a price tag on student or employee safety.
John McEntee, Jr.
President of the Paterson Education Association