EducationThe Examiner

Bedford Schools to Form New Task Force on Safety and Security

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

Bedford School District officials have formed a Safety and Security Task Force to make sure students are free from danger as nationwide outrage grows over the mass killing of 19 elementary school students last month in Texas.

As of last week, more than 50 parents and staff members had signed up to be considered for the committee, said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joel Adelberg. Adelberg has recommended its creation to incoming Superintendent Dr. Robert Glass, who will begin his service in Bedford on July 1.

“This is to bring more people to the table in a more robust way so those who want a voice can have a voice,” he said. “There’s nothing more important that the safety of our students and staff.”

Adelberg said following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, there were some members of the community who were concerned but interest is currently at its peak. Application forms can still be submitted until Wednesday.

In a June 6 letter to the community, Adelberg said he expects the task force to convene over the summer. Its key objectives would be to gain an understanding of safety and security in the district; discover best practices from safety experts; explore best mental health practices for students; and submit a report containing recommendations to the Board of Education and the superintendent.

Board of Education member Jessica Cambareri said there has been confusion among some residents in the community who believed that there was already a task force. While the existing group meets regularly, including the day after the Uvalde, Texas shooting, Adelberg said the district should explore refreshing its safety and security plans.

“This incident touched a nerve,” he said of the Uvalde shooting, “and we should be responsive as a community.”

Board Hires Investigative Firm

The board last week approved retaining Kroll Associates of Manhattan to conduct an investigation into the picture-taking incidents of naked special education students in the Fox Lane High School bathroom.

Paul Barger, the attorney for two of the families whose children were victimized earlier this school year when those photos were circulated on social media, said his clients are pleased at the hiring and that the company has a long history of conducting inquiries.

However, the district “has made no effort” in keeping the families informed, Barger said. They only learned of the hiring by watching the June 8 board meeting.

He said the goal is to make sure the investigation is conducted properly and reaches a conclusion that is made public.

“We are less concerned about timing and far more concerned about making certain this is an effective, thorough and truly independent investigation, Barger said. “We also hope all the finding are shared with the public regardless of whether they may be damaging to the board. We continue to hope Kroll and the board will keep the families updated throughout the investigation.”

Board of Education President John Boucher said there is no specific timetable for Kroll Associates to complete the investigation. A target date of completion will be shared with the public along with the firm’s finding, but the district will adhere to privacy laws, he said.

“It is of the utmost importance to the board that the review is thorough as well as timely,” Boucher said.

The district is paying Kroll Associates $90,000, plus expenses, for the work.

In March, parents of the special education students that were victimized went public with information about the incidents, demanding answers as to how officials could have allowed additional incidents to occur.

The matter was investigated by the Bedford Police Department and has since been referred to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.

Editor’s Note: The comments from Bedford Board of Education President John Boucher have been added for the online edition of this article. His responses came after the print edition went to press.

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.