Mayor Eric Adams has sparked controversy by suggesting that parents might need to step in as volunteers to help maintain the safety of city schools.
This proposal comes in the wake of the recent elimination of 250 newly hired School Safety Agents due to budget constraints linked to the ongoing migrant crisis.
During a press conference on Tuesday, November 14th, Mayor Adams stated, “We’re going to be leaning into parents and parent groups to do some volunteerism.”
Parents have expressed strong opposition to this plan. Sarah Lewis, a mother of a sixth-grader, told the Post, “It’s not my job or any parent’s job to have to patrol the school, that’s not why I’m sending my child to a school.”
Union spokesperson Hank Sheinkopf of Local 237, representing School Safety Agents, also criticized the proposal, pointing out the role of taxes in funding professional services. “People pay taxes for professional services. Why should they even be asked to do the work their taxes pay for?” Sheinkopf remarked.
In addressing the escalating concerns among Jewish and Muslim parents about a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia due to the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, Mayor Eric Adams emphasized his commitment to fostering dialogue between the communities.
Responding to questions about his administration’s approach amidst tensions, Adams stated, “We have to get to the point that we’re talking to each other again because what I’m seeing playing out on the streets of the city is not who we are as a city.”
He acknowledged the heightened fears parents are experiencing during these challenging times and stressed the importance of community engagement.
“My goal is to bring folks to the table and understand we’re going to do our job as a Police Department, but it’s also crucial that we engage in these local conversations with each other,” Adams remarked.
The mayor’s comments about partners’ volunteerism came after intense disapproval from Community Education Council representatives, the NYC School Safety Coalition, and Staten Island officials.
On Monday, November 13th, these groups condemned the cuts to School Safety Agents.
They argue that the significant expenditure on the migrant crisis is now compromising essential services for the city’s residents.
In defense of his administration’s actions, Mayor Adams highlighted the absence of mass shootings in New York City schools as a measure of the effectiveness of existing safety measures, saying, “We have not had one shooting inside our schools because of the work of School Safety Agents and the New York City Police Department.”
He also assured that he is collaborating with Schools Chancellor David Banks to optimize personnel deployment and maintain student safety.
Despite these assurances, the city’s fiscal challenges remain stark. Mayor Adams had previously warned of a necessary 15% budget cut across all city agencies in response to the financial burdens of the migrant crisis, which he estimated could cost the city $12 billion over three fiscal years.
The current situation reflects a 25% reduction in School Safety Agents compared to pre-pandemic levels, stirring Staten Island leaders to urge City Hall and the NYPD to restore the recently eliminated class of trained agents.
Borough President Vito Fossella of Staten Island voiced the community’s frustrations, saying, “If you want to spend $12 billion and continue to spend $12 billion on the migrant crisis, so be it, but don’t take it from the hardworking people in Staten Island.”