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Queens Chronicle

CEC 24 supports armed school guards

CEC 24 approves 7-0; unlikely to find much traction with DOE brass

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Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:30 am

True to their word, members of Community Education Council 24 on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution calling for armed ex-NYPD officers in all city schools among numerous proposals to upgrade school safety.

But if top education officials are to be believed as well, the retired officers with concealed firearm permits are not going to be roaming public school hallways anytime soon, if at all.

The 7-0 vote drew no protests or objections from the audience of nearly 60 people gathered at IS 73 in Maspeth. It was, in fact, greeted with a smattering of applause.

CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni reiterated his stance from last week that former police officers, trained in how and when to employ firearms, should be considered in the wake of December’s mass shootings at a Connecticut school.

“Maybe they would not have saved everyone,” Comaianni said. “But someone confronting [the shooter] with a weapon could have made a difference.”

Other recommendations in the resolution include locked, camera-monitored entrances at all schools to allow security personnel to view all visitors before they can gain access to a building; and the addition of “panic buttons” with direct links to NYPD dispatchers.

He said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly already has the authority to grant “special patrolman” status to qualified individuals under specific criteria. He also said the cost could eventually be neutral if, for example, the city began filling vacancies in its current school security force with NYPD retirees at the same cost.

“They already would have their police pensions, so you would not be hiring them at $100,000 to 120,000 per year,” he said. Council Member Bill Kregler, a retired police officer, said the individuals would need to acquire a pension waiver that enables them to work certain jobs while maintaining their full benefits.

“Teaching is one of those jobs where you can get the waiver,” he said.

A DOE official said last week that the department does not consider armed guards to be the answer to any security problems, and the measure is widely expected to end with the Council’s resolution.

A measure that Comaianni does expect DOE approval on in short order is another resolution asking that PS 113 in Glendale, the Isaac Chauncey School, be changed in honor of former principal Anthony Pranzo.

Pranzo had been principal at the 87th Street school for 23 years before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 2012. The school and neighborhood communities have been unified in pursuing the honor.

“In 23 years he made it more than a school; he made it a family,” said Alejandro Megias, Pranzo’s successor at 113. “The community is still healing. Renaming the school would be especially helpful in that process.”

Comaianni said that for years he did not even know who Isaac Chauncey was, and that many others were equally at a loss.

“It turns out he was a hero in the War of 1812,” Comaianni said. He added that one person has come forward claiming to be a relative of Chauncey, but that he has not provided sufficient evidence to support the assertion.

By far the majority of the crowd on Tuesday turned out to be showing up one month early.

More than two dozen parents from PS 143, the Louis Armstrong School in Corona, were on hand to discuss future plans for teaching their children currently housed in an annex.

Comaianni said officials from the DOE’s School Construction Authority will be at the February meeting to discuss a new five-year capital improvement plan to succeed the one running out this year.

“They handle anything to do with buildings, annexes, additions and new schools,” he said.

He and Council Vice President Peter Vercessi welcomed and encouraged a suggestion from a Louis Armstrong parent that she and others submit SCA-related questions to the Council prior to February’s meeting.

“That way we can get the questions to them in advance and maybe they can come with answers rather than saying they will have to get back to you,” Comaianni said.

The Council’s email address is cec24@schools.nyc.gov.

Rosemary Parker, the CEC 24 representative from the United Federation of Teachers, blasted the Bloomberg administration for what she said was its sabotaging of talks to end an impasse over teacher evaluation language.

She said Mayor Bloomberg and he alone was to blame for last week’s last-second breakdown in an evaluation agreement that could cost the city $250 million in state education funds.

Gov. Cuomo had predicated the funding on reaching an agreement by last week.

“We and the DOE’s own representatives reached an agreement,” Parker told the Council and the audience. “The mayor’s own appointees said OK and then he torpedoed it. It is not us. The mayor blew it up.”

Bloomberg said some of the proposals, such as a two-year sunset period, would make any such agreement unworkable.

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