Shaw Avenue School student who brought knife to school unsettles parents


A student who brought a pocketknife to Shaw Avenue School has caused a stir of concern among parents, prompting some to call for tighter security measures at Valley Stream District 30. Shaw principal Erin Malone sent a message notifying parents of the incident on Oct. 17 and assured them that “the matter has been addressed consistent with the District’s Code of Conduct.”

The district’s school safety policy underscores that any weapon discovered on school grounds will be confiscated immediately. In such cases, parents of the involved student are promptly notified, and appropriate disciplinary measures are taken, which can include permanent suspension and even legal referral.

Basic questions regarding the method of discipline doled out to the student and how the student gained access to the pocketknife in the first place remain unclear. As of press time, the district could not be reached for comment. Nevertheless, the incident hasn’t failed to raise a host of troubling questions about what it takes to not only protect elementary school students from adult active shooter threats but also from hurting one another.

“I’ve talked to several parents and so far, each of them has expressed that they would like metal detectors to be installed in the schools,” said parent Sheyla Estevez, who has sought to get answers from district officials about exploring these new types of deterrence.

Estevez praised the district’s current safety measures, including its lock-equipped classrooms, advanced alarm system in case of an intruder, as well as its restricted visitor checkpoints controlling access to who gets in and out of the building. But the possibility still exists “for a child or an adult staff member to bring a weapon and an alarm won’t change that.”

“Anyone can bring anything,” she added. “Even let’s say the one delivering the cafeteria food or the mail. Even kids are bringing guns to school. It happens more and more each day.”

With an uptick in gun violence, experts note that the accessibility that children have to guns at home is greater than ever, and gun violence remains the leading cause of death for children and teens. The results, however, are mixed regarding the effectiveness of less-used safety tools like metal detectors. Anecdotal reports from schools often cite mishaps with the metal machines including false alarms that can create long, cumbersome waiting lines.

Educators and public health officials have also warned against the over-surveillance of students, which can engender an air of fear in school. They opt instead to place greater emphasis on tackling the mental health and safety of students when they act out and parents properly safeguarding weapons from children in their homes, limiting their access.