By Judith Dinowitz
On Tuesday, April 14th, at a school safety rally sponsored by the New York City Council, and then at a city council hearing, Agudath Israel leaders advocated for Introduction 65, a proposed amendment to the New York Administrative Code. This legislation, if passed, would require the New York Police Department (NYPD) to assign school safety officers, upon request, to nonpublic schools; currently, these assignments are only mandated for public schools.
At the rally, in front of City Halll, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel, addressed a crowd comprised of nonpublic school representatives, council members, and Jewish, Christian and Muslim community leaders. He said that Introduction 65 levels the playing field in safety for nonpublic schools by giving them equal access to school safety officers who are trained by the NYPD. These officers, while unarmed, work in full uniform and are in direct radio communication with the NYPD; having them on premises may deter potential attackers, or give the school an edge in combatting an attack in progress.
Later that day, as one of several invested community leaders, Agudath Israel representative and Education Affairs Associate Dovid Tanenbaum testified at the city council hearing in favor of Introduction 65. He stated, “There is no legal or constitutional basis for denying this protection to the close to 250,000 children, or almost 20% of New York City students, who attend nonpublic schools.”
Introduction 65, sponsored by Councilmember David G. Greenfield, enjoys strong support from council members, with 46 out of 51 members already signed on. The hearing was a joint meeting of three key committees — the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the Committee on Education, and the Subcommittee on Non-Public Schools; it gave community advocates the opportunity to air their concerns, share ideas and demonstrate their endorsement of the amendment to these legislators.
Rabbi Zwiebel spoke proudly of Agudath Israel’s commitment to the security and protection of all of New York City’s school children. “Especially now, with instability in the international political arena and with terrorists and Jew-haters targeting Jewish institutions, our children in nonpublic schools deserve the same protection and security enjoyed by those in public schools.”