NEW ROCHELLE, NY — This article is Part 4 of 8 in a series on the June 23rd meeting of the New Rochelle Board of Education where administrators and board members discussed a plan to move the Alternative High School from St. Gabes High School to the Family Life Center at Bethesda Baptist Church. There were four subsequent board meetings – two in executive session and two in public session. This series is focused on what took place on June 23rd, an attempt to deceive the board and the public by cherry-picking or withholding information in order to “sell” Bethesda to a skeptical school board.
The biggest concern with St. Gabes expressed by Moselhi and Thurnau during the presentation is school security although the exact nature of the concerns were unstated. In the past there was a breach of security. According to past security audits, staff were satisfied with the level of security at the school.
Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the signing into law of the New York State Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) legislation, the District has conducted four security audits.
The first security audit in 2009 by Joseph Casbarro and Rosemary Lee did not including a site visit or evaluation or recommendations for the Campus School at St. Gabes.
The second security audit in 2013 by Vigilant Resources International did evaluate security at St. Gabes. Besides recommendations that were made to every other school, there were two unique concerns with St. Gabes: (1) day labors congregating near school and catcalling female students; (2) adding a third full-time security guard.
The third security audit in 2018 by Guidepost Solutions made many of the same recommendations as at every other school but expressed the concern that St. Gabes was “virtually a public access building that allows uncontrolled access to the building” where tenants can access school space and students can access tenant space. The report noted that a New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Parole Office is located at 3 Cottage Place. The office is about .5 miles away from St. Gabes on the other side of North Avenue. Bethesda is about .6 miles away from the Parole Office on Cottage Place.
The fourth security audit in 2019 by Altaris. Talk of the Sound does not have an unredacted copy of the final report (if you have one please send it along and we will update this section).
Thurnau said there would be 6 CCTV cameras at Bethesda which he said is the same as St. Gabes. The VRI and Guidepost reports both said there were 12 CCTV cameras at St. Gabes as recently as 2018.
The VRI and Guidepost both recommended adding a third full-time security guard at St. Gabes. This was never done. Coverage at a third security post inside the building was staffed intermittently with part-time security guards.
The area within 3 blocks of the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Brook Street is by far the most dangerous neighborhood in New Rochelle known for shootings, drug-dealing and other gang-related activity.
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