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Sunday, April 20, 2014
Merrick parents want school guards
By Brian Racow bracow@liherald.com
Brian Racow/Herald
Merrick District Superintendent Dominick Palma, at lectern, and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano gave an overview of measures now under consideration to upgrade security in the schools.

County, school and police officials offered anxious Merrick parents assurances that they are taking steps to enhance school security at a Jan. 29 meeting of the South Merrick Community Civic Association.

The Merrick School District — which comprises Birch, Chatterton and Levy-Lakeside elementary schools — is working with the Nassau County Police Department to give officers the ability to tap into the district’s closed-circuit TV feeds from cameras inside the schools, officials said. Police are also stepping up visits to schools and patrols near thethe beginning and end of the school day. And the Merrick district is weighing several options to increase security, including contracting with a security-consulting firm, hiring guards and adding vestibules around schools’ front entrances.

Some Merrick parents, however, said they would not be satisfied with any measure that fell short of stationing guards at schools.

Ron Luparello, chairman of the SMCCA’s School Security Committee, said he had recently met with Dominick Palma, Merrick’s superintendent, to offer a number of parental suggestions to improve school security, including adding guards.

“There were … all sorts of suggestions for security, ranging from technological advancements, security guards, unarmed security guards, armed security guards, video cameras,” Luparello said. “I have to say that [Palma] listened intently [to] all the suggestions.”

An online petition created by a group named “Merrick SOS (Secure Our Schools!)” on the website change.org calls for licensed, unarmed guards to be stationed outside the entrances of Merrick schools. The petition has more than 450 online signatures. Jodi Turk-Goldberg, a Merrick parent involved with the petition drive, said the group has collected about 50 more signatures on paper, and that members planned to present the petition and make a case for hiring school guards at Tuesday night’s Merrick Board of Education meeting, after the Herald went to press.

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