Students in one part of Long Island returned Monday with something new: armed guards patrolling their campus.
The guards, who do not wear uniforms or marked cars, are stationed in front of each school in the South Huntington School District and are only allowed to enter the schools in an emergency.
“You just never know. You just never know where or when it might happen,” said District Superintendent Dr. Vito D’Elia.
They were hired in response to school shootings across the country. But do students, parents and staff feel safer with them?
While the idea is to prevent a school shooting, some parents have questions about who will be on guard.
“I’m not too comfortable with this, it’s something super new and like I said who are these guards going to be? Where are they hired?” asked Danielle Gaviglia-Castro, a mother of 10 and 6 year olds.
D’Elia said the guards must have a law enforcement background and would only be stationed outside the building.
“A strong part of that is active marksman training. They are only used against a very specific threat,” he said.
The armed guards are hired from an outside contractor that costs about $750,000 a year. There are now various security forces within the school who are paid from a different budget.
“There are some who are excited, feel more secure and believe it makes their jobs safer, and they’re all in,” said Dennis Callahan, who works in the school district. I won’t go under.”
But the superintendent said it was a matter of response time. The guard is there to give students and teachers a worst-case scenario.
“Why is this even happening in today’s world? We shouldn’t be nervous about sending our children away from home,” Gaviglia-Castro said.
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