Mayor Eric Adams’ administration faced intense scrutiny on Monday, November 13th, following an unexpected decision at the end of October to withdraw a class of 250 School Safety Agents without a clear justification.
This move by the administration has sparked strong criticism from both sides of the aisle.
The candidates, poised to begin their training, were informed of the cancellation mere days prior to the scheduled start of the training, leading to widespread speculation about budget cuts as the underlying reason—an assertion that remains unconfirmed by the mayor’s office.
In a pressing response to the situation, Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, joined by Staten Island elected officials, Community Education Council representatives, and the NYC School Safety Coalition, held a press conference on Monday urging Mayor Adams to reinstate the 250 School Safety Agents.
“I believe this is the worst possible time to eliminate a class of brand-new School Safety Agents. We’re facing unprecedented times here in New York City. There is a global conflict happening at this time, which unfortunately has once again made New York City a potential target for terror,” Tannousis stated, emphasizing the urgency of the matter.
The assemblyman also highlighted the ongoing migrant crisis and its pressure on the city budget but maintained that the presence of School Safety Agents is vital to protect children.
“Cutting School Safety Agents does not make any sense. It is a recipe for disaster. You only need one potential individual to bring terror upon a school that would bring unprecedented tragedy,” Tannousis remarked, pushing for immediate action from the mayor’s office.
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis from New York’s 11th District pointed out the apparent inconsistencies in the administration’s approach to public safety.
“We are seeing a reduction at the NYPD overall. We’re seeing less cops on the street [and] less detectives being able to solve crimes to put people behind bars. And now we’re seeing 25% less safety agents than there were pre-Covid pandemic,” Malliotakis said, noting the adverse implications of such reductions.
She further emphasized the critical nature of the agents’ role by stating, “It is critical that we have the safety agents to keep our students and to keep our educators safe. This is part of a problem that we’re seeing in New York City where they are just dismantling school discipline.”
Assemblyman Michael Reilly voiced the concerns shared across the political spectrum regarding school safety.
He referenced the recovery of 6,000 weapons from schools last year to underscore the importance of School Safety Agents in maintaining a secure environment.
“It’s time that city Hall actually puts the money where it should go to safety in our schools,” Reilly stated, calling for a reevaluation of budget priorities.
Addressing the attendees at the press conference, Councilman David Carr emphasized that the city has an obligation to safeguard the children attending schools throughout the five boroughs, and a key component of this safety framework is the presence of School Safety Agents.
“It’s ridiculous, beyond ridiculous that we should be here discussing the cancellation of a needed class of School Safety Agents,” he expressed.
While acknowledging the Adams administration’s initiatives to enhance school security by installing buzzers and cameras with locking mechanisms, Councilman Carr stressed that the dismissal of the agents runs counter to these safety efforts.
Carr said, “It doesn’t make sense. It’s one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing.”
Assemblyman Sam Pirozzolo highlighted the role of education in addressing societal issues such as homelessness and drug addiction, underscoring its importance in distinguishing right from wrong.
He insisted that ensuring students’ safety is fundamental to their education.
Pirozzolo stated, “By reducing the amount of School Safety Agents is not the right way to do it,” emphasizing that the reduction of safety personnel undermines the security of the educational environment.
He also noted incidents where guns and knives were found in schools, arguing that not only should the dismissed 250 School Safety Agents be reinstated but that there is, in fact, a need for even more agents to ensure adequate school safety.
At the press briefing, Mona Davids, founder of the New York City School Safety Coalition and LittleAfrica News, questioned Mayor Adams on why the safety of New York’s schoolchildren is being compromised at the cost of the ongoing illegal migrant situation, which has been challenging the city since last year and consuming billions from the city’s budget.
Davids argued that the decision to dismiss School Safety Agents not only affects the agents themselves but also has profound implications for the 250 families connected to those agents.
“We have the safety of our children being endangered because of this migrant crisis. And it’s not right. It is not right that our children are being put last. And it is certainly not okay that 250 families now are going to struggle,” she declared.
While appreciating Mayor Adams’s efforts to enhance security by installing additional safety measures and providing bulletproof vests to School Safety Agents, Davids also questioned the logic behind the decision to reassign school safety police officers who were tasked with providing security outside the schools.
Davids concludes by saying, “We implore Mayor Adams to put the safety of our children first.”
The collective voices at the press conference made it clear—there is a strong demand for Mayor Adams to reconsider the cancellation of the School Safety Agents class and to address the safety concerns that their absence has heightened.