North Merrick district weighs security choices

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Each of the North Merrick schools is conducting security-related meetings, workshops, trainings and drills, and building principals are reviewing security procedures, according to Saitta. The district also complies with Project SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education), a New York state law that requires districts to have safety and emergency-response plans.

The PBS special, which is viewable at, mentioned that Sandy Hook Elementary School had a recently upgraded security system with locked doors, cameras, a buzzer and intercom, and required picture IDs from strangers. It also had a staff that had trained for an active shooter scenario and practiced lockdown drills, none of which prevented gunman Adam Lanza from entering the school and killing 20 first-graders and six staff members on Dec. 14.

Michelle Levine, a North Merrick parent, said that she and other parents have had to come to the realization that they are “powerless against the active shooter.”

Neil Brown, the Board of Education president, replied that it may be impossible to ensure a gunman cannot enter a school building, but “we can do things to minimize the tragedy if it were to happen.”

Chris Ward, of North Merrick, urged the board to consider the efficacy of any dollars it spends on new security measures. He underscored that students are often the ones who commit school shootings.

“Mr. Saitta made a really good point about not putting a high-tech lock on a shabby door,” Ward said. “I would like you, as you consider all these options, to keep that principle in mind. If the greater threat is from a parent in a custody battle, or a child, and you spend all this money on … background checks, you’re letting these people in the school anyway, so it could be a lot of money going towards nothing.”

Feller said that he wants to put a security proposal up for a public vote in the May school election.

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