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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

PTA leader says school not secure

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— The president of the Orchard Hills School PTA is raising safety concerns that her school, along with two others, is not completely secure during the school day.
PTAPresident Melissa Wunder said at a recent PTA Council meeting that she is continually frustrated that the school’s front door is not locked.
“Not all children are treated equally on school security,” Wunder told about 50 parents and Superintendent of Schools Harvey B. Polansky.
Wunder said the city recently spent about $1 million to upgrade security at all city schools, and it should be the policy of the administration that all schools are locked during the day.
But Orchard Hills and at least one other elementary school — Orange Avenue School — does not lock its front door during the day. Most city schools are locked down.
Polansky said he has ordered all buildings to be locked down, but he leaves it up to the discretion of the building principal.
Wunder asked Polansky to issue a blanket policy that all schools be secured during the school day, but Polansky reiterated that he will allow the building principals to make that decision.
He said at a couple of elementary schools, principals have said that keeping the front door open is a “cultural issue.”
“I feel, how can you pick and choose which children are secure?” Wunder questioned. “I feel there should be a policy from (the superintendent’s office) so there is no guesswork.”
“If something happened at my (child’s) school I’d be really upset,” Wunder added.
Polansky, at the end of the conversation, said he’d like Wunder to go back and speak with the school’s administration, and if the response was not satisfactory, he could order all schools to be locked down.
School board member Pamela Staneski, R-5, said at Live Oaks School, a parent volunteer sits in the hallway.
PTA Council member Michael Taylor said just because a school has all its doors locked doesn’t make it completely safe.
In 2005, former Superintendent of Schools Gregory A. Firn requested and received a commitment from Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. for $1 million to make all 15 schools safer.
A portion of the money was spent on replacing locks on all classroom doors, but funds also went toward new surveillance and video equipment.


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