State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Monday announced he has begun audits of the State Education Department (SED) and the New York City Department of Education (DoE) to determine if they are doing enough to ensure schools have adequate and up-to-date safety plans in the event of a school shooting or major emergency.
“The epidemic of deadly school shootings in the past few years and the terror wrought in our children’s classrooms is horrifying. Sadly, every school district in New York and across the country has to plan for the unthinkable,” DiNapoli said. “My auditors are going to examine if the laws and programs New York has in place to keep our children safe in schools are being followed. We need to do everything we can to prevent senseless tragedies.”
“When it comes to our students’ safety, we must be proactive, not reactive. That’s why we need to take a hard look at the state of school safety in every school and changes need to be made to make sure that our students can learn and grow in the safest environment possible,” said New York City Council Member Paul Vallone, chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “I applaud State Comptroller DiNapoli for launching these audits and recognizing the importance of having a plan in place to protect our students. The legislative package I introduced in the City Council to create a School Safety Task Force will also be a critical tool in revamping and improving our schools’ safety and emergency plans. This must remain our top priority from here on out as we lead the charge for safety in our schools.”
The audits announced today will examine the state Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act that was signed into law in 2000 to promote a safer and more effective learning environment in New York’s schools. Part of the act requires schools to implement comprehensive safety plans, which include policies and procedures covering such topics as safe evacuation, communication in emergencies, emergency responder access to building plans and school violence prevention training. DiNapoli will also be auditing how several school districts across the state have implemented the SAVE Act.
If schools fail to comply with the SAVE Act and do not develop, establish, and update school safety plans, they could experience miscommunication, see more injuries and violence and prolong emergencies. Failing to follow this regulation could also hinder local law enforcement by not centralizing key information about a school, which could help to achieve a resolution in a dangerous situation.
Since 2013, there have been hundreds of school shootings in the United States resulting in numerous deaths and serious injuries. In May, 10 people were killed and another 10 injured by a student at a Santa Fe, Texas, high school. In February, a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., left 17 dead and another 17 wounded.
Field work is expected to begin in June.