Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Minutes -- School Safety Meeting -- 11-12-08

The Queens High School of Teaching
11/12/08 Rm. 125 1:45 PM

In attendance:
Michael Flynn, APO
Michael DiAngelo, Q811 Site Supervisor
John Pattay, Custodian Engineer
Mary McCarthy, School Nurse
M. Robles, SSA LIII
Vernon Jerome, Dean (Freire)& UFT Representative

Mr. Flynn opened the meeting by debriefing the Safety Committee’s work prior to Halloween. He stated that we had an incident-free Halloween. He thanked the deans and APs who participated in bag checks that helped keep contraband items out of the building. He also thanked the SSAs who helped prevent contraband from entering the building by watching closely outside the main entrance to see which students were hiding items on the campus, in bags, or in their clothing.

Mr. Flynn then debriefed the visit by the DOE scanning unit. He reminded everyone that the scanning is random. Every school that does not have daily scanning is normally visited by the random scanning unit once or twice each year. The school is not informed of the visit until the afternoon before the unit will be on campus. The school is advised not to share information about the visit with students, parents, or staff members (except for those directly involved in planning for the visit) prior to the day of scanning. John Pattay asked that in the future, the custodial engineer’s office be informed prior to the day so that they may make plans to assist with logistics. Mr. Flynn agreed to do so. Mr. Flynn stated that on the day of scanning one student was seen by an SSA dropping a small box-cutter on the campus before he entered scanning. The student was given a summons and a superintendent’s suspension. In addition, on the day of scanning:

1,013 students were scanned
559 cell phones were confiscated
141 ipods were confiscated
21 other electronic items were confiscated

All items were made available for return to students on the afternoon of scanning. Mr. Flynn thanked the staff members who came to work early and stayed late to assist with the confiscation and return of items.

Mr. Flynn next related that another student, who in a separate incident had brought a knife to school, had received a lengthy superintendent’s suspension.

Level III Robles discussed the fact that at 1:15 each day, the entire student body is on the move. Emerson students are leaving the cafeteria. Freire and Montessori students are leaving DEAR. This is a particularly volatile time. Mr. Flynn said that he would work with Level III Robles, the deans, and the APs to develop a plan for covering floors with both a staff member and an SSA from 1:15 until 1:30. He said that he would write a PIS paragraph asking teachers to make sure to be in their classrooms to open up for students so that large groups of students were not waiting in the hallways after lunch and blocking passage.

Mr. Flynn stated that the deans and a number of UFT members had complained to him about lack of SSA presence on the floors at various times during the day. Level III Robles explained that because of staffing levels, there were times during the day when one agent was assigned to cover two floors. For example, one agent might be assigned to cover both the 4th and 5th floors.

Level III Robles and Mr. Flynn committed to doing daily walkthroughs, at alternating times of day, to verify that all school staff members and SSAs were at their assigned posts, to make sure that all students leaving classrooms had passes, to clear students out of commons areas if they did not have free periods, to check exits and bathrooms, and to assess overall building safety.

Mr. Flynn then moved on to the next agenda item. He stated that the deans had observed an increase in the number of students that teachers were asking to have removed from class. In some of these cases, removal was not warranted. In addition, in some cases students had been sent out into the hallway to find the dean themselves. Some UFT members had asked about SSAs removing students from classrooms when a dean was not available. Mr. Flynn stated that SSAs should only remove students from classrooms if they were endangering the safety of students and staff members in the room. In cases where student and staff safety are not in danger, he said that he preferred deans to respond to classrooms. Seeing a uniformed agent at a classroom door often escalates a situation. When a student’s behavior is inappropriate for the classroom, but does not pose a danger to staff or other students, a dean or AP should be called rather than an SSA. SSAs can and should assist in contacting a dean or AP by using their walkie-talkies. Our deans know their students well and are skilled at defusing situations or correcting inappropriate classroom behaviors with minimal added disruption to classroom instruction. A uniformed SSA appearing at the door often creates more disruption. A committee member asked what happens if a dean cannot be reached. Mr. Flynn said that he would give the SSAs a list of who to contact in the event that a dean could not be reached.

Finally, Mr. Flynn asked if there were any building issues that needed to be discussed. John Pattay stated that he had noticed an increase in food in classrooms. He asked that teachers and APs address students who attempt to bring food into classrooms. John also noted that the bathrooms in the cafeteria were frequently tagged with graffiti. Mr. Flynn said that he would work with the deans and APs on a plan to reduce this. Mr. Flynn asked that an SSA clear the cafeteria of students at 9:30 each day. He had received reports of students remaining in the cafeteria after 9:30.

The meeting was adjourned.


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