EducationFeatured PieceThe Examiner

Bedford School Officials Enhance MKES Security After Disturbing Incidents

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
Mount Kisco Elementary School where two incidents earlier this month have some parents questioning their children’s safety at the school.

Two recent incidents within a few days at Mount Kisco Elementary School (MKES) have Bedford school officials making security enhancements as worried parents last week demanded answers about how their children will be protected.

On Friday, Jan. 5, it was discovered that wires to a copying machine were cut with a tool. That was followed by marijuana nuggets strewn outside the back door of the principal’s office the next school day, Monday, Jan. 8, said Inas Morsi-Hogans, the school’s principal.

The school district held a meeting with MKES parents early last Thursday evening in the school’s cafeteria as a result of the incidents. All protocols were followed, Morsi-Hogans said, including contacting the Westchester County police, which patrols the village. Central administration and the emergency response team were also notified.

Morsi-Hogans said the students were never in danger because each one of the roughly 600 children in the K-5 school is accounted for at all times.

“The people here are taking care of your children. I promise you,” Morsi-Hogans said while at one point fighting back tears. “It doesn’t feel that way, it’s not landing that way, but these isolated incidents with the marijuana, it’s legal so it’s touchy. Of course, endangering the welfare of children is a big deal.”

The back-to-back incidents follow another discovery in the fall when a bag containing a white powdery substance was found in the school’s playground. The substance turned out to be crushed Tylenol.

Since the pair of incidents, the district has had a school resource officer at MKES every day, and that will continue until at least this Friday, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Glass. The district is also working with county police, which will provide additional personnel for two days this week, and perhaps beyond this Friday, he said. Community Resource Officer Eddie Ramirez will be stationed at the school for the other two days of the holiday-abbreviated week.

The district currently has two SROs contracted through the Bedford Police Department, one stationed at the Fox Lane Middle School and high school campus and the other traveling between the five elementary schools.

Surveillance cameras will also be installed but that task may take as long as a month to complete, Glass said. None of the district’s five elementary schools currently have interior cameras, he said. The superintendent pledged that cameras and additional SROs would be a key topic of discussion as deliberations on the 2024-25 academic year get underway.

Previous budget challenges have prevented the installation of cameras in all buildings and hiring more SROs, Glass said.

“We live in a world where things happen. What’s important is that we’re prepared as much as we can to respond or to head them off,” said Glass. “So things like cameras and SROs can really be helpful but they can’t ensure that someone won’t do something like this in the future. They can just be deterrents and slow it down and stop it before it starts.”

After conferring with police, who are still investigating the two most recent incidents, Morsi-Hogans and Glass said it was likely that the acts were perpetrated by an adult inside the building, and perhaps the same person. The copier is in a room that is not staffed but is frequently used by staff. It is heavy and would have needed to be moved for someone to have access to the wires.

Morsi-Hogans said that on Monday, Jan. 8 she was on the phone speaking with Glass about the copier when the marijuana was found on the floor outside her door.

“So, of course, you start to think about someone’s mental health, someone’s not well,” she said. “Someone’s cutting cords, throwing marijuana at my door and putting us in an unsafe emotional space.”

Many parents who spoke were supportive of MKES personnel who are trying their best, but some viewed the security inadequacies as part of a larger issue regarding funding equity. Some parents, including Juan Barbecho, who has three children in the district, said the school has been shortchanged out of necessary resources for years.

“All these issues at the end of the day comes down to budget,” Barbecho said. “Anyone can see the budget is so low compared to the other schools, and I’m not saying we might not get equal money or more, but I’m saying that the budget should be (expended) equally per student.”

Parent Lisa Mitchell said she believes the incidents were a deliberate attempt to make the MKES community look bad. She urged district officials to address the security and to do their part in finding the culprit.

“There is an unhinged person in this school doing things to threaten our staff and stigmatize our community on purpose,” Mitchell said. “We cannot solve this over the course of three or four months. We have to solve it right now.”

Another parent said when her children moved on to the middle school and high school, they were looked down upon because they had attended Mount Kisco Elementary. The school has a high minority population, with a high percentage of Hispanic families.

“When people know they’re from MKES, the things that they say, the discrimination, and the discriminatory things that are said, it’s not right,” the parent said during Thursday’s forum. “That’s a whole other separate battle. I get that. But this is a product of not giving the building the needed resources.”

Glass said that as the district builds its budget for next year, he will make sure there is equity among the schools, but that’s not the case in this instance.

“This is a gap between what we should have,” he said. “We should have cameras in all of our schools and we’re moving in that direction.”

Board President Robert Mazurek said the board and the administration takes what happened at MKES seriously.

“We are parents with children in the district,” Mazurek said. “Mine are in 12th grade and 10th grade. So we’re sitting here with you as parents. If this happened anywhere in the district my reaction would the same as yours. Your leaders are here, the superintendent and the principal of the school.”





We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.