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Boston City Council Learns About School Safety

The Boston Council held a hearing earlier this week regarding school safety.

Councilor Annissa Essaibi George requested the hearing, saying it is vital to know how the Boston Public School Department is protecting children.

“School safety has always been top of my mind,” she said. “We need to create a community that is safe and welcoming.”

Councilor Matt O’Malley said these conversations can be uncomfortable, but necessary.

“It’s incredibly sad we are having these conversations, but every school district should be having these conversations,” he said.

John Hanlon, Chief of Operations of Boston Public Schools, assured the council they are doing everything they can to create a safe environment for all students.

“Safety to us is far more than cameras and locks,” he said.

Currently, there are 75 Boston police officers for the Boston Public Schools. There are 10 for the elementary schools, 7 for the middle schools and 49 for the high schools. Others are dispatched at school offices and police stations.

“High schools are our big ticketed items with incidents because there are more kids there,” said Hanlon.

All schools have to create safety plans, conduct fire drills and participate in the active shooter presentation. They also have to create escape routes and participate in the bully prevention program.

Last year, Mayor Martin Walsh invested $5 million to the school department for classroom door locks, cameras, improved exterior lighting and exterior doors, and card access to doors. The card access was installed last year and is currently in place.

Boston Public Schools is now partnering with the organization Sandy Hook Promise. Sandy Hook Promise trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child, according to their website.

Through Sandy Hook Promise, the school department is launching a pilot program in eight schools using a new app called Say Something Anonymous.

Say Something Anonymous is an app, website and phone number where students can report incidents or other students they are worried about anonymously. They can upload pictures and videos as well. Their anonymity will never be broken.

“We are very excited about this,” said Kim Pelletreu from the Mayor’s office.