FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2021
Assemblymembers Michael Reilly (R-Staten Island) and Michael Tannousis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) announced today that they are drafting legislation that would require schools and/or school districts throughout New York to notify school communities in a timely manner when a safety incident occurs in or near a school.
The two lawmakers are introducing this legislation following a rash of safety incidents that have occurred at Staten Island schools in recent weeks, the most notable of which have been at Susan Wagner High School, where one recent altercation in front of the school involved a firearm.
On Wednesday, Reilly participated in a virtual town hall organized by the NYC School Safety Coalition and attended by the Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s School Safety Division, Deputy Chief Olufunmilola Obe. At the forum, parents and teachers voiced their concerns about the incidents at Susan Wagner High School and other schools across Staten Island where violent incidents have spiked alongside a rise in unsubstantiated threats.
This legislation would require school and/or school districts to notify school communities of incidences via letter, email, phone, or any other electronic methods that may be available. These notifications would be required to describe the type of emergency protocol(s) implemented, its duration, the status of the incident, and whether law enforcement was notified.
“I have long advocated for increased safety in our public schools, as well as better accountability and transparency from the Department of Education,” said Reilly, who is the parent of two public school students and previously served as President of Staten Island’s Community Education Council 31. “As a parent, I completely understand how scary it can be when school safety incidents occur and, subsequently, how frustrating it can be when school communities aren’t made aware of the incident until long after its occurrence.”
In 2019, Reilly introduced legislation to expand the New York City Department of Education’s use of their Online Occurrence Reporting System (OORS) so that school administrators can track incidents throughout the entirety of a student’s academic career and offer the support and recourses necessary to prevent the reoccurrence of incidents.
“Ensuring a safe learning environment for each and every student that attends New York public school should be a top priority,” said Tannousis. “We need to do everything in our power to protect our students and provide parents with peace of mind knowing that their children are safe. Our legislation will do just that.”