One mother’s thoughts on Uvalde and how to improve school security

‘I am not scared, my kids are in good schools.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

Queens mom Casey DeLeon Pinola remembers shedding tears when she learned 19 children were mowed down in a school in Uvalde, Texas, a city once heralded as the “honey capital of the world.”

She immediately thought of her three children Carlos, 15; Caydence, 6; and Coah, 4, who go to three different schools in New York City.

“That night I will admit that I cried and held my children a little tighter than usual,” said Casey when reached by The FilAm. “When I sent them to school the next day, all I could do was believe they’d be okay.”

Eldest son Carlos in 10th grade attends Legacy High School in Roosevelt Island. Daughter Caydence goes to PS 390Q, and youngest Coah is a student at Brookville Center for Children’s Services. Carlos and Coah are bussed to and from school as part of their  Individualized Education Program being students with developmental disabilities. Caydence is taken to school either by Casey or Caydence’s Lolo depending on who is available for the day.

Casey DeLeon Pinola has three children attending three different NYC schools.

“I am not scared about my children being in school because my kids are in good schools,” said Casey. “And  we are a tight knit school community.”  All three schools have practised different safety drills with their students, for which Casey is grateful.

But Casey and some parents have some observations about school security and suggested ways to reform them. It starts with a locked door, a security guard, and cameras. They noted how some schools have only cameras as the first line of defense  with no security guard to inspect the visitors’ bags or backpacks.

“Cameras are great but it takes only how many seconds for an intruder to enter and — worst-case scenario — attack the security guard before walking inside the school building. Some schools, have buzzers and an intercom where you state your purpose in entering the school,” she said.

Another suggestion is installing bulletproof doors and locks and a direct connection from each room to 911 stations. With all the money that has not yet been used for the COVID-19 pandemic relief, Casey believes schools can install these safety measures, at the very least the buzzers for the main doors.

She said screeners like those in airports are good to have too but may not be a priority in terms of budget.

Schools in other states have foggers or smoke machines to disorient any intruder, she said. “The fogging machine are installed in ceilings so the intruders can’t see the classrooms.”

She said parents in one of her children’s schools have brought up some safety concerns to the teachers.  “We parents have signed a petition to be presented to the principal and the DOE (Department of Education).”

 They observe also how some school staff need additional safety training.

“All we can do as parents is teach community safety and stress awareness (to our children),” she said.

She tells her children  that when they are in school “teachers are the authority.”  In the event of an emergency, they have to put their listening ears on and follow directions.

“I told them in the event of an emergency just get to safety, and don’t try to be a hero. I told them crying is okay but after they have taken action and they are safe and out of danger.”

Mom tells Coah, Carlos, and Caydence, ‘In an emergency, get to safety, don’t try be a hero.’

© The FilAm

One Comment

  1. Ora Lovecchio wrote:

    This is great article! Thank you 🙂

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