Who let the dogs out in Oceanside?

O’Side schools grapple with issue of dogs on school grounds


A persistent issue has been stirring concern among Oceanside School District administrators along with residents and educators alike: dogs on school grounds.

For years, as the weather becomes warmer the Oceanside School District has grappled with the challenge of ensuring the safety and cleanliness of its community spaces while allowing access to recreational activities.

The presence of dogs on school property, particularly during non-school hours, has presented a complex dilemma for school officials and has once again become an area of concern. While district officials made it clear that while they are fans of the furry friends, school grounds are not where residents should be walking them.

“We’ve all been made aware and specifically, Merle Avenue School) playground, is a playground for children and I can’t stress that enough,” said board trustee Michael D’Ambrosio at the April School board meeting. “We now have, on camera, multiple people. One person bringing five dogs. One person brought a dog in with a child and shut the gate, letting the dog play like it’s a dog park.”

At the heart of the matter lies the school board’s commitment to maintaining school grounds as community spaces, accessible to all residents. However, the recent surge in incidents involving unleashed dogs has raised safety concerns among parents and educators.

“We have mothers, with their children in strollers, using the track and becoming terrified,” D’Ambrosio said. “We have to take back these playgrounds. We have fathers playing catch with their sons. It’s a shame that some of the people are ruining it for the rest. It’s starting to become a problem.”

Despite clear signage and surveillance measures, enforcing rules against dogs on school grounds has proven challenging. Minor confrontations with violators have been reported to the school board, highlighting the need to address the issue. The possibility remains that the school district may have to lock school gates from dusk to dawn if the matter is not resolved but will seek alternative options.

“I think it would be a real shame if we had to close the playgrounds,” said board trustee Laura Lisi. “Perhaps we can engage the students to make a campaign to get the word out within their own communities because it’s obviously people that live in the area who are doing this.”

Violation of posted rules against dogs on school property may constitute trespassing or nuisance under Nassau County ordinances.

However, the prospect of involving law enforcement remains a last resort, as school officials recognize there are more pressing matters for local County police attention.

“We would like to think that we could allow our police officers to be doing much more important work, than giving a summons to someone who just doesn’t understand that it (school grounds) is not a dog park,” Harrington expressed. “We don’t want to go the route of tracking them down and calling the police. It doesn’t seem to be something that should reach that level. But at the same time, we don’t know how to solve this problem other than locking our gates, which is really not what we want to do.”