The stabbing death of a student in a Bronx classroom Wednesday is throwing a new spotlight on the issue of school security, including whether city schools should have metal detectors. NY1 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
The investigation of the stabbing at the P.S. 67 building is just beginning, but one thing is clear:
There were no metal detectors to stop the switchblade used in the killing from being brought into the school.
"They need to change their approach to their approach to security," said Gregory Floyd, the president of the Teamsters Local 237 union. "They need to change their attitude toward discipline."
The stabbing is adding fuel to a heated debate about placing detectors at school entrances. Just 88 out of 1,600 city school buildings have them permanently.
Some parents and advocates say the devices aren't necessary, and create a prison-like atmosphere in schools that predominantly serve black and Latino students.
But at P.S. 67, many parents say they want them.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says portable detectors will be brought in while his team studies the issue.
"The department of education, and with School Safety, makes decisions as to the level of security needed, in consultation, of course, with the larger NYPD," de Blasio said. "We're going to continue that effort to constantly reassess."
Major crime in city schools has dropped 18 percent over the past two years. A panel of experts convened by the mayor has recommended some of scanners be removed, but he has left them in place
The school safety officers union, which wants metal detectors in every high school, said the city is taking risks with students' lives.
"We need metal detectors, because schools are that dangerous," Floyd said.
The lack of scanners is not the only security concern highlighted by the stabbing.
The school building houses students from three to 19 years old, the result of a Bloomberg-era policy of high schools sharing space with elementary schools to accommodate a surge in new schools.
On Wednesday, many parents outside the school called the arrangement of P.S. 67 and the School for Wildlife Conservation sharing a building unacceptable.
"I know that this high school here with elementary and junior high school mixed poses an extreme danger," a parent said.
In a city survey last year, 90 percent of students said there are physical fights in the high school and just 19 percent of teachers said discipline is maintained. It's a stark contrast to the citywide average of 75 percent of teachers reporting that order is maintained in their schools.