Dec. 8, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
The City Council overwhelmingly approved a bill Monday that will allow taxpayer dollars to fund security guards at private schools.
Under the legislation, the City will provide up to $19.8 million to fund unarmed security guards at private schools that request them, including religious schools.
David Greenfield, a Brooklyn councilman who sponsored the bill, said the legislation is “more important than ever” coming on the heels of several anti-Semitic crimes in New York, including in his district.
The bill passed 43 to 4.
“New York City has an obligation to keep the public safe – that includes every one of its young students, regardless of the type of school they attend,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said in a statement.
“Every child who goes to school in New York City should be safe when they are in school,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “[This bill] will make a safe space for all children.”
“[This bill] will ensure that all students throughout our city go to school with a safe and protected learning environment,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “When we keep our schools safe, we keep our communities safe. The bill will also create hundreds of new living-wage jobs, allowing more workers to support their families.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm, chair of the Council’s Education Committee, was one of the four who voted in opposition.
According to a statement released in anticipation of the vote, Dromm believes the spending on private schools, which he called “a $20 million giveaway,” will “come at a great cost to our New York City public school students.”
In contrast to Greenfield’s statement, Dromm also said he worries that the funds will prop up hatred rather than protect students from it.
“Yeshivas, private schools and parochial schools – unlike public schools – are not subject to Council oversight or much of the NYC Human Rights Law. Too often their leaders embrace homophobia, transphobia and other horrific ideologies, and subject our young people to them on a daily basis in the classroom,” Dromm said.
Greenfield had initially proposed putting NYPD school safety agents in private schools at a cost of $50 million, but a compromise with the Mayor brought down the price tag and shifted to privately contracted guards.