From JP Updates.
Hundreds of parents and children from Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and other non-public schools gathered Wednesday noon on the steps of City Hall to call for the passage of of Intro 65, known as the non-public schools (Yeshiva) security bill, introduced and aggressively pushed by Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield.
The bill, pending a City Council vote and approval by the mayor, would assign uniformed NYPD School Safety Agents to all non-public schools, just as every public school in the City of New York receives. The funding proposed for this bill is estimated at the maximum of $50 million.
Flanked by a dozen of City Council members, out of 46 co-sponsors, the children, parents and diverse community leaders, Councilmember Greenfield declared, “When it comes to the safety of our children, it doesn’t matter what their religious beliefs are or whether they go to public or non-public schools. The reality is that there is a need for public safety for our children.”
Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Orthodox Union, pointed to the fact that the entire non-public school community has united around the issue of school safety. “The safety of our children is not a political issue; it’s an issue of basic decency and fairness. We stand together to demand that that the City Council passes Intro 65 to protect all of our children,” he said.
“We owe it to all our children to ensure that they are safe at school, regardless of the school they attend,” added Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs for the Orthodox Union.
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James offered her unwavering support of the bill, delivering impassioned remarks about the need to safeguard all children in the city.
“Do you want unauthorized persons entering your schools? No! Well, it is your time to make some noise,” James said as she addressed the many school kids situated on the steps of City Hall. “We need our children to feel safe at school, and for parents to have a piece of mind.”
James, the first citywide official to support the bill, noted the recent uptick in hate crimes against religious institutions as a reason to put the safety of children learning in non-public schools as top priority. “We can no longer afford not to have these vital security agents. We want school safety agents now,” she roared.
Greenfield recently received the strong backing of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. In a press conference in Borough park last week, Adams pointed out that school safety agents are paid by taxpayer dollars, and “those taxpayers dollars do not come from only public school parents. The taxpayer dollars come out of the pockets of parents throughout the entire educational system, inclusive private schools, religious schools and public schools.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include any funding for the proposal in his Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2016, arguing that the NYPD is doing a pretty good job in protecting all communities.
“That will be an ongoing discussion in the future, as we look at other ways we can provide help to schools in terms of security,” the mayor recently told JP. “It is just not in this budget because we can’t find a way to appropriately do it now.” De Blasio contended that security is already being provided to all neighborhoods, regardless of the location of the officers. “It’s about the choices we have to make with the resources we have… We believe that with the resources we have now we can provide a protection to communities,” he explained. “We understand there are some very challenging times we’re in, but we also know the NYPD is, in particular, tremendously able to addressing the challenges we face, even when they are internationally derived. We feel good about our ability to protect people.”