Know The Drill?

May 24, 2019 by

Public schools are mandated to prepare for fires, bomb-scares and other emergencies by holding drills on a regular basis. These usually involve rapid, silent and organized evacuation requiring crossing of streets to designated positions until the “all-clear” for re-entry into school.

Discipline is essential when practicing for security violations and safety threats. Most kids normally comply.  But increasingly often, motorists who get stuck in stopped traffic  do not. They may honk their horns or curse at supervising adults and even at student monitors who stand in the middle of the street with “STOP” signs attached to long wooden planks.

Incredibly, some of these impatient drivers refuse to put up with the inconvenient delay of a few minutes by maneuvering their cars around staff and students as though they were posts on an obstacle course. They do this without fear of penalty, because police are normally not informed about the drills or have other priorities and won’t show up.

I doubt a single summons has ever been given to these irate motorists for their menacing behavior.

Actually, every New York City public school already has a NYPD presence on site. These “school safety agents”, formerly Board of Education employees, are police employees with peace officer status. I don’t know whether they can issued summonses, but if not, they should be so authorized. Or at least, they should act as the eyes and ears of the NYPD and notify local police precincts of the license place numbers of observed offenders.

In the absence of officially endorsed protocol, one sometimes has to get creative. One teacher whom I know well and whose identity I will protect, acquired a discontinued badge from a mid-western law-enforcement agency , which he flashed to drivers who were already gunning their engines while in “neutral” in an effort to intimidate. Luckily the hothead behind the wheel didn’t call the teachers’ bluff.

Interestingly, this problem is relatively unknown when non-public schools empty their buildings for one reason or another.  There is decorum and restraint from drivers  even when they are forced to take detours. That’s not only true when there are fire drills, but also when their adjacent public streets are cordoned off from intersection to intersection all day for use as playgrounds, even when their schools have their own usable indoor gyms, which some public schools don’t.

This is particularly true of religious schools. For some reason, they get a pass.

Disparate attitudes and enforcement regulations percolate with favoritism and boil down to injustice. Ron Isaac

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