‘We can make schools safer without interfering with learning’ Consalvo says
BOSTON – Today City Councilor and Rob Consalvo unveiled his plan to keep our children and teachers safe at school.
“A lot of ideas about how to make our public schools stronger have been discussed in this campaign, but none of them matter if we can’t keep our children and our teachers safe when they are at school,” Consalvo said. “Every morning when I send my own kids off to school, I pray that they’ll be safe, but we shouldn’t have to leave it to chance. These are simple and effective ideas we can start implementing right now that can help prevent violence in our public schools.”
Consalvo’s plan offers give key strategies to make schools safer:
Keep out intruders. Of the 127 schools in the Boston Public Schools system, only 53 require a security key card to get inside. Requiring key card access in all school buildings would give authorized staff the ability to come and go with ease and ensure that buildings remain locked at all times when students and teachers are in the building.
Increase security cameras. Only 35 of the 127 BPS schools have security camera systems. These cameras give school staff the ability to have total awareness of what is happening on the perimeter, at the entrances and in the hallways of school buildings. Cameras also collect the vital evidence needed to hold people who commit acts of violence in schools accountable.
Make classrooms a safe haven. For very good reason, classroom doors cannot lock children and teachers inside in such a way that prevents them from leaving. However, new technology exists with door locks that would allow a teacher to quickly seal off the classroom to prevent intruders from getting in.
Allow easier access to mental health services for teachers and students. It should be just as easy for a child or their teacher to talk to a mental health professional as it is for them to see the school nurse for a band-aid. If children are being bullied, suffering from a mental health crisis or experiencing trouble at home, they should have someone to talk to before they reach the point of violence. By increasing public-private partnerships between schools and neighborhood health centers and private mental health practices, we can make sure children and teachers always have somewhere to go when they need help.
Encourage school staff and police to collaborate more. Teachers and administrators are the first line of defense against school violence, but we must have police working with them in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect to create the best-possible strategies for saving lives. The police and school departments will be tasked with creating effective annual training programs that bring both fields' expertise to bear on improved strategies for identifying potential problems, reporting potential problems to one another, managing these problems before they become harm to children and saving lives should a tragedy strike. The goal is to build trust and common professional practice.
“We owe it our children and the dedicated men and women who help them grow into smart, responsible adults to make sure school buildings are safe without interfering with the learning process,” Consalvo said. “We can keep our children and their teachers safe by working together to implement these smart ideas.”
Christine Surette, a parent whose child attends the Conley School, spoke in support of Consalvo’s plan.“As a parent of a student at this school, I appreciate Rob’s focus on increasing school safety,” Surette said. “Like every parent, the safety of my kids is the most important thing to me, but Rob understands that increasing safety in school buildings should not interfere with the learning environment. Rob understands my concerns as a parent of public school children.”