Students adapt to heightened security


In the wake of three recent threats at Wantagh High School, extra security measures have been taken. Lockers have been sealed, backpacks have been banned and students are required to carry their books in transparent bags.

Two of the three threats, on May 1 and May 21, resulted in the evacuation of both the high school and middle school. The third, on May 22, happened around dismissal time, and police quickly deemed the area safe.

Now, students’ bags must be checked when they enter the building, restroom access was limited to one bathroom for girls and one for boys, with a sign-in sheet, until a second set of bathrooms was opened on May 28, and new security cameras have been installed.

“The increased measures, including bag checks and interior camera installation, were executed smoothly with the help of additional security personnel,” Superintendent Maureen Goldberg said. “Students were extremely cooperative throughout the process, and attendance at the high school remains at a normal level.”

Some students, however, have not been happy with the changes. “I feel like, rather than a safety measure, we’re being punished for what one person did,” said Kayla Knight, a junior at the high school.

“It’s annoying, but understandable,” another junior, Melanie Kirk, added. “I wish they didn’t take away all that they did, but I understand where they’re coming from.”

Senior Dan Parker said that everyone is trying to sensationalize the situation at the high school. “Much worse things happen at other schools,” he said. “We’re not used to this because we live in a pretty wealthy, suburban area, and we’re not bad people.”

Parker added that while some students are complaining about the increased attention, he doesn’t have a problem with taking extra precautions. “So many people are complaining about [the cameras], but I really don’t mind,” he said. “What are you going to do in front of them that you wouldn’t do already?”

One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he never believed there was a serious threat. Another, who also declined to be identified, said that the bag checks are making people late for class, and “everybody’s books are falling in the hallways.”

A Nassau County Police Department spokeswoman told the Herald Citizen that there are no updates on the case.

Nearby districts are aware of the situation in Wantagh, and have their own protocols in place for similar situations.

“All necessary protocols and precautions are being taken at the Levittown schools,” said Levittown Superintendent James Grossane, “and the district only discusses the specifics of security plans as needed.”

Seaford Superintendent Brian Conboy said he has been in touch with Wantagh School District officials, and there have been discussions with Seaford’s District Safety Committee. “In the event of any similar situation,” Conboy said, “we will rely on our safety plans and protocols, and make every effort to identify and prosecute fully those responsible.”

Goldberg added that the Wantagh district is taking the situation very seriously and is working closely with police. “Our highest priority is the welfare of our students and staff, and keeping our parents informed of the latest information,” she said.