Two Queens lawmakers want to give public school principals the power to lock front doors

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Following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February, two Queens lawmakers are offering a potential solution to keeping schools safer.

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein and Councilman Paul Vallone are calling on the Department of Education (DOE) to allow school principals the discretion of locking the doors to the school while classes are in session.

“Current DOE policy requires that school principals keep the front door of their school unlocked during the day. This allows an individual to enter the building before a determination can be made if they represent a danger or not. This deviates from the practice at many private schools where visitors must ring a bell and announce themselves before being permitted entry,” Braunstein said. “Granting public school principals this same authority to confirm whether or not an individual represents a threat before allowing them into a school could prevent dangerous incidents from taking place. It is a change we must consider.”

Currently, the DOE prohibits school principals from keeping the front door locked during the day.

Vallone cited the recent incident at P.S. 184, when a suspicious man reportedly entered the school, as an example of why school doors should be locked while classes are in session.

“When it comes to our students’ safety, we need to be proactive, not reactive, and principals should have the autonomy to decide when they think it is appropriate to preemptively lock their school entrances,” Vallone said. “Incidents like the one at P.S. 184 clearly show that our students are not as safe as we think and changes need to be made to make sure that they can learn and grow in the safest environment possible. This request is just the first step in a series of changes that must be made. This must remain our top priority from here on out as we lead the charge for safety in our schools.”

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