Merrick District spending $200K to upgrade security

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Several people at last week’s board meeting expressed their approval of the new security measures, but said they were not completely satisfied. One was Michael Goldberg, a father of students in the district and the husband of Jodi Turk-Goldberg, who helped start a petition, signed by several hundred Merokeans, that demanded that licensed, unarmed guards be stationed outside the entrances of Merrick schools. Goldberg said he was concerned that the plan to retrain current staff as “greeters,” regardless of security work background, would be inadequate.

“From what I’ve heard … the ‘greeter’ is going to be in charge of the school security,” Goldberg said. “So we’re calling it a ‘greeter,’ but this is a security person … I feel like you’re trying really hard to keep the person there because you don’t want them to lose their job, and you’re going to try whatever you can to retrain this person instead of bringing a properly trained security person in.”

Palma said that the claim was unfounded. “Let me stop you on that, because Altaris’s position would be, any person that you would find as a guard … would not be appropriately trained,” he said. “They would need to be specifically trained” to work in a school setting.

Goldberg said that three recent experiences he had visiting his children’s school belied assurances that additional, recently implemented security measures have improved security. “I’ve had free access to the school,” he said. “There were a hundred people in the lobby. They were taking [driver’s] licenses. I gave my license — no one asked me to give my license. There were plenty of people standing around. I could have easily walked anywhere I wanted to.”

Board of Education Trustee Butch Yamali asked whether the new security measures would be in effect after school hours, when children are in the building for activities such as youth sports. Palma said that the measures would not, for the most part, be in effect after school.

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