More than three months after the Newtown shootings, school security remains high on the list of priorities for the Parsippany Board of Education.
At its meeting at Parsippany High School last Tuesday, Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz presented an update on the district's efforts to make sure tragedy does not visit local schools.
Seitz reported that he met with Mayor James Barberio and Parsippany Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo Jan. 29 "to see what could be done in partnership with the town to assess security."
As a result of the meeting, Seitz said PPD Deputy Chief Paul Philipps has been assigned to work with the district to tighten security in the schools.
Some of the ideas discussed, according to Seitz, include working with the school security committee, school officials, representatives from transportation companies and members of town administration and expanding the types of safety drills conducted at schools. So far, the superintendent said security topics have been reviewed; he said those reviews will continue.
Seitz said some facility upgrades are under way to address strengthening security, with $45,000-$50,000 being allocated for the task.
"We're looking at doors and locks to make access more difficult for those who should not be [in school buildings," he said. "We're looking to upgrade [public address] systems to make sure there are not dead spots."
He added that the district is looking to federal officials to get "clear direction," and perhaps funding.
Board member Anthony DeIntinis said he believes he and his colleagues should be permitted to attend future committee meetings.
Member Michael Strumolo agreed, adding that DeIntinis' past experience as a school resource officer makes him uniquely qualified to participate.
"He bring a wealth of knowledge and should be at the meetings," Strumolo said.
"I'm very ignorant about safety in schools," said member Gary Martin, a former Montville police captain. "I am extremely ignorant of new policies."
He agreed that DeIntinis should be part of the school security committee.
"He overwhelmed me with his knowledge on that topic," Martin said. "He brings something to the board on that level. If he can help, it's about helping the children."
"I'm not sure the board has the authority to direct the township to add a board member," Seitz said, adding that he will take up the matter with the mayor and the police chief. "I have no problem with accepting Mr. DeIntinis' help."
Member Frank Calabria suggested having board leadership meet with the mayor to discuss the concept and explain why a board member should be on the committee.
"We have competent individuals and we want as many competent people there to deal with this important problem," he said.