OBEN Continues to Tighten Security
The Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District continues to be ahead of the curve when it comes to safety and security, according to District administrators. Working with its District Safety Team and the Nassau County Police Department’s Division of Homeland Security, they are moving forward with new measures to keep students and staff safe.
With security vestibules and visitor management systems running smoothly by security personnel in each building — an initiative that was implemented last year — the District is in the process of installing uniform classroom door locks district-wide. The locks immediately deadbolt at the touch of an easily identifiable red button so that anyone could lock the door in case of an emergency, explained Mr. Michael Cipriani, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations. For exterior doors, an emergency door ajar system has been installed, which alerts certain personnel if a door is left open for more than an identified time period. District security officers stationed throughout the schools are retired law enforcement officers “who meet regularly with Nassau County Police so there is regular communication,” Mr. Cipriani said.
Security upgrades such as these are made possible through the foresight of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laura Seinfeld and the Board of Education who crafted a $826,000 proposition for security improvements as part of the bond issue that was passed by voters on December 17, 2015. The District Safety Team, an advisory committee, is comprised of Board of Education representatives, school administrators, security and custodial staff, teachers, pupil personnel staff, parents and a Nassau County Police Officer from the Department of Homeland Security. It meets regularly to discuss security measures and makes recommendations for improvements. Recommendations are then brought to the Board of Education for discussion and approval.
“With our community’s support, we have been working diligently with our experts to be proactive and implement the necessary precautions to keep our students, staff and families safe,” Dr. Seinfeld said. “It is a continual, ever-changing process that we must keep in the forefront as we explore new possibilities, and as we monitor and adjust what we already have in place.”
Specific security upgrades were made in each school building at the recommendation of administrators and Homeland Security. At James H. Vernon School, security film was placed over large classroom windows to prevent a “fish bowl” view of the classrooms. At Theodore Roosevelt School, privacy fencing was installed around the basketball courts as a means of keeping young students safe while on the courts at recess and at dismissal. Sections of the screening by the parking lot and on Larrabee Avenue up to the gates were removed to provide some visibility to the street and to help meet the community’s concerns. The District plans to install a 24-hour surveillance camera and signage, and requested that night and weekend police patrols pay extra attention to the area.
“We are aware of the concerns of the community and feel this is a fluid situation that can be modified as needed in the future,” Dr. Seinfeld said.
At Oyster Bay High School, students are now wearing school lanyards with photo IDs that are color-coordinated by grade level to clearly identify them as Oyster Bay High School students.
“Just like staff members, we wanted our students to wear identification so we could better distinguish who belongs in our building,” said Oyster Bay High School Principal Ms. Sharon Lasher. “Some of our students enjoy the privilege of an open campus and that is something we are balancing as we continue to implement safety measures.”
As another layer of protection, staff is researching the purchase of bollards or large planters outside of Vernon and Oyster Bay High School to prevent a moving vehicles from potentially damaging a school building.
According to Mr. Cipriani, the Department of Homeland Security has offered to provide an awareness training regarding safety precautions to any interested groups in the school community, including staff, families and community groups, if requested. Some have already been scheduled.
In addition, all community members are encouraged to sign up for District emails to keep up to date on school news and happenings. Email sign up is available on the District website at www.obenschools.org or at the following link: https://obenschools.parentlink.net/main/login/new-account-sign-up. All community members can also connect with the District on Facebook and Twitter.
Oyster Bay High School students display their IDs, what are color-coded according to grade level.
Uniform door locks immediately deadbolt at the touch of a button.
Privacy screens were placed on sections of fencing at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.
Security film covers glass panels at James H. Vernon School.