School Climate & Safety

N.Y.C. Tightens School Security in Wake of Shooting

By Meg Sommerfeld — March 11, 1992 2 min read

In the wake of the fatal shooting of two students at a Brooklyn high school, New York City officials last week unveiled a $28-million initiative designed to curb violence in the city’s schools.

The initiative, announced by Mayor David N. Dinkins, included the immediate institution of daily electronic scanning for weapons at five high schools, including Thomas Jefferson High School, where the slayings occurred.

In addition, all 124 city high schools will undergo police-department security audits, and 35 of the schools will be selected by the board of education and the police for “security upgrades” by this fall.

The plan also calls for violence-prevention experts to visit Jefferson High and its neighborhood.

Under a policy in effect before the nationally publicized shootings late last month, security guards used hand-held metal detectors to check students for weapons once weekly on a rotating schedule at 19 high schools--including Jefferson--and 2 middle schools.

At Odds Over Funding

Soon after Mr. Dinkins announced the new safety plan, city and school officials were at odds over how it would be funded.

Deputy Mayor Norman Steisel said that $20 million of the $28 million needed for the plan would have to be allocated from the schools’ capital funds for the 1992 and 1993 fiscal years--a prospect that drew criticism from school officials.

Robert Terte, the spokesman for the board of education, said that Mr. Steisel had pledged the city would restore the money to the capital budget, but without specifying a deadline for its return.

City and school spokesmen, meanwhile, gave divergent accounts of how much money has been available for school security under New York’s “Safe Streets, Safe City” program.

Although $31 million was allocated from the program in the current fiscal year to enhance safety in the schools, school officials only spent $3 million on conflict-resolution programs and used the rest to meet general expenses when the city cut $28.4 million from the school budget, according to Leland Jones, a spokesman for Mayor Dinkins.

But Mr. Terte maintained that the schools had received only $3 million in “Safe Streets, Safe City” funds.

In another reaction to the Jefferson High shootings, delegates of the local teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, voted unanimously last week to authorize teacher walkouts in any school “considered dangerous to students and staff.” A union spokesman said such walkouts would be a last resort if schools do not move quickly enough to intensify security.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 11, 1992 edition of Education Week as N.Y.C. Tightens School Security in Wake of Shooting

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