By Jonathan Sperling
More than two dozen city councilmembers agree that the Department of Education’s schools are “not sufficiently prepared” for a mass shooting incident, according to a letter signed by the pols and addressed to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.
Queens Councilmember Adrienne Adams, who formerly served as the education chairperson of Community Board 12 in Southeast Queens, wrote the letter following an audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. A total of 27 councilmembers signed onto the plea for preparedness.
DiNapoli’s audit found that the DOE can do more to comply with the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education, or SAVE Act, which lays out a comprehensive policy for school staff and administrators regarding the protection of students.
“It is alarming to know that erroneous, outmoded and untimely safety plan submissions are prevalent in our school system,” the letter reads, before urging the DOE to mandate compliance with the SAVE Act prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
DiNapoli’s audit also found that five “of the 25 sampled schools did not conduct the minimum number of evacuation or lockdown drills and, for the 2016–17 school year, 3 of the 25 schools did not conduct drills within the required time frames,” among other findings.
A bevy of Queens councilmembers, including Councilmembers Donovan Richards, Paul Vallone, Robert Holden, Barry Grodenchik and Peter Koo also signed off on the letter.
The councilmembers encouraged the DOE to follow DiNapoli’s recommendations, which include working with the Education Department to develop a process to submit School Safety Plans to state police, as required under both the law and the state regulations, as well as reviewing procedures for monitoring emergency drills to ensure that all drills required by law are completed within the required time frames.