Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 19, 2014

Security changes coming for LHS

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport High School will see increased staffing in the evenings and at least one hall monitor will be uniformed as part of a slate of short-term security improvements.

The Lockport City Board of Education directed Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley and Principal Frank Movalli to implement the changes at the high school last week.

Bradley was also asked to look at bringing in a retired police officer to greet visitors to the school during the day.

Currently during school hours, an off-duty Lockport police officer checks in visitors by having them sign in and take visitor badges. But the cost of that is $230 per day, board member said. Visitors still have to buzzed in by the main office first, and a school resource officer is on duty.

Having an off-duty officer greet visitors is subtle encouragement to visitors to behave themselves, according to Movalli. The main office is down four positions and existing staff are not able to keep a close eye on visitors once they enter the school.

“It’s not the most efficient use of our time,” Movalli said. “If someone is there to greet the people (visitors) it’s a strength.”

Hall monitor George Apolito Jr. is paid to circulate through the school and alert administrators to any issues. That task becomes harder and broader after school hours, when events at the high school are drawing in all kinds of people from the community.

At some events, typically sports related, there are paid security officers present. But not all events are covered.

“It wasn’t on our radar to assign people to the play, to the swim meet or a wrestling match,” Movalli said. “Now with the issue we had, it’s a larger consideration.”

Movalli was referencing an assault last month on Pat Burke, the district’s athletic director, and Apolito. Two Lockport teens attacked the men as they were trying to escort the teens out of the school. Police reports said the teens were being unruly during a basketball game. There were two other events going on at the same time, so the school was packed, Movalli said.

The teens, DeAndre T. Reed, 16, of Washington Street, and Jesse F. James, 18, of Caledonia Street, have both pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault and are to be sentenced March 28 in Niagara County Court.

Movalli proposed giving Apolito a uniform, to make him and his authority more recognizable to students and visitors.

The school would benefit from additional coverage, Movalli said.

Trustee Anthony Molinaro asked whether coaches or athletic department personnel could chip in. They know the community better than anyone, he said. Movalli suggested parent volunteers.

Putting Apolito in uniform and “staffing” the school with more adults at night are seen as short-term solutions to facility security issues.

Long term, as part of a capital improvement project approved by voters in May 2013, the main entrance to the high school is being redesigned and  physical security improvements added. The project is currently being reviewed by the state education department.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.