The New York City Council voted unanimously to spend $19.8 million on unarmed security personnel for private and religious schools. The funds account for the first year of services, starting April 1 2016.
The council stated the guards must be unarmed, registered with the state and trained to work in elementary schools.
Specifically, the new bill, which was approved Monday, authorizes city-provided reimbursements to non-public schools for expenses related to hiring unarmed school security guards. Qualifying schools include non-profit schools in New York City with 300 or more enrolled students, providing instruction in accordance with the education law and serving students in any combination of grades pre-kindergarten through 12.
Reimbursable costs include expenses related to hiring, training and wages for guards providing security services during school hours, and school-related after school programs and athletic events. The number of security guards provided to each school will be based on the number of students. Schools would be required to apply for the reimbursement and to provide appropriate documentation to support reimbursement requests.
“Students across our city deserve a safe learning environment, no matter what community they come from or where they attend school,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “With this bill, we’re reaffirming that message and showing our commitment to all students in New York City.”
"Today is a historic day for children’s safety,” said Council Member David Greenfield. “I am proud that my bill, Introduction 65-A, is passing today and will be implemented by April 1, 2016. This monumental legislation recognizes that every child, regardless of where they go to school — whether public or private, secular or religious — deserves to learn in a safe environment. Coming on the heels of two anti-Semitic crimes in my district last week and a rise of religious bias crimes in New York City, this legislation is more important than ever.”
Among others, Greenfield thanked the students, parents, school administrators, labor organizations and advocates from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths who strongly advocated for this protection. He named the Orthodox Union, the UJA-Federation of New York, Agudath Israel of America, the Sephardic Community Federation, the Catholic Conference, the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, the Islamic Schools Association, the Muslim Community Network and SEIU 32 BJ building service workers’ union for their active partnership and support that led to the passage of the bill.
Greenfield’s earlier version of the bill had a cost of $51 million and would have given the schools NYPD school safety officers.
There are thought to be approximately 800 non-public schools in the area, with some 250,000 students – around half of whom attend Jewish yeshivas.