Here’s why some members of the North Salem Board of Ed voted ‘no’ on an additional School Resource Officer

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At the June 15 North Salem Central School District Board of Education meeting, trustee Paul Giamundo made a motion to vote on whether the district should add an additional school resource officer. Currently the district has one SRO who covers both schools. The motion passed by a narrow 4-3 margin.

At Wednesday’s meeting, board president Deborah D’Agostino and trustees Andrew Brown and Kurt Guldan voted ‘no’ to the motion. Brown is a lieutenant in the North Salem Police Department and Guldan is the president of the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps and heads the Office of Emergency Management for the Town of North Salem. The vote was a popular topic of discussion on social media, with many community members questioning why those who voted ‘no’ voted the way they did.

[Highly unusual North Salem Board of Education meeting turns contentious over School Resource Officer]

In an email sent to the North Salem Post explaining the ‘no’ votes, D’Agostino wrote:

“As I said in my opening comments, the board is considering a number of alternatives. Those that voted no did so because we believe that we could not make a responsible decision without the opportunity to review and consider all of the options available to us. Acting quickly is not as important as getting it right. In this case that means taking the time to make a reasoned and thoughtful decision.

We have over two months until the start of school. There is enough time to fully consider alternatives which could potentially be more cost effective and more beneficial than hiring a single SRO. We are working with the county and local police and our private security company regarding the availability and deployment of human resources.

We are also working through the security consultants’ recommendations for items such as door locks and controlled entry. (These items were also raised by parents as areas of concern.)

Our “No” vote was not a vote against an SRO, it was a vote against taking premature action.

That being said, since the board has taken action we will work together to implement that decision.”

Westchester County Police currently provides nine SROs to four school districts in northern Westchester, according to Kieran O’Leary, director of public information for the Westchester County Police. Those districts include Somers, Lakeland, Hendrick Hudson and North Salem.

O’Leary noted that SROs represent one level in an overall security plan for any school or district. “Other critical elements of security include security staff, technology including cameras inside and outside of schools, physical security elements such as doors that are always locked, shatter-proof glass, controlled entry of visitors, etc. Our SROs work in conjunction with each Board of Education, superintendent, administrators and staff to address security matters and issues of concern,” O’Leary said.

Brown told the Post, “discussing the pro’s and con’s of any security procedure reveals the weaknesses in our security plan. The benefits of an item reveals what we are presently missing, the deficiencies expose weaknesses going forward. Given the complexities of school security, using the time we have available to investigate and analyze our choices is the best way to serve all of the stake holders involved. Voting “no” was an expression of my desire to use that time.”

Guldan did not respond to requests for comment.

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