As NYC educators are diagnosed with coronavirus, school safety agents are being shuffled from site to site, creating chaos and confusion, according to the union repping the officers.
In recent days, one school safety agent was transferred out of a Bronx school where a staffer had tested positive, only to be told they weren’t wanted at a new site, the Local 237 union told the Daily News.
At another school, in Brooklyn, a school safety agent wasn’t allowed in the building after two staffers tested positive, but when the agent tried to get assigned elsewhere, no other school wanted them, the union said.
While the Educated Department stated the same policy applies for school safety agents as for other school staff — in which employees are only supposed to be reassigned or sent home if they’ve been diagnosed with COVID or come into close contact with a positive case — the union said the treatment of its members “is putting everyone at risk.”
“We don’t want our people put at risk, which is what we believe happened here,” Local 237 spokesman Hank Sheinkopf told the Daily News. “We want a clear policy that doesn’t put school safety agents at risk.”
As of Tuesday, 65 teachers had tested positive for coronavirus, according to the DOE.
J.H.S 131 Albert Einstein in the Bronx was closed after staff there tested positive.
A school safety agent assigned to the building was transferred to P.S. 107 in the Bronx, according to Local 237, but the principal didn’t want the agent there. So the agent was placed in an empty classroom described as a “quarantine room,” then moved to a high school. After the run-around, the school safety agent was allowed back at J.H.S. 131 — though they are yet to take a COVID test, the union said.
“We want the confusion to stop. What’s the story? You put people in situations where they are in danger,” Sheinkopf fumed. “You don’t check to see if they’ve been infected. You move them around putting everyone at risk. This is a DOE mess.”
After staff tested positive for the virus at P.S. 139 in Brooklyn, a school safety agent was not allowed in the school and told to wait outside, according to Local 237, adding that “no other schools wanted the agent.”
The officer eventually took a vacation day so they could get tested and is now quarantined while awaiting results, the union said.
In a third case, after staff tested positive at the Beach Channel Educational Campus in Queens, school safety agents sought to be reassigned, but encountered “pushback” from the DOE, according to Local 237. Some agents took vacation or sick days, while others have gone back to work, the union said.
“We take the health and safety very seriously and our strict procedures and protocols are in place to protect everyone who works in our public schools,” DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer said in a statement. “We will work with the NYPD and Local 237 to ensure we are aligned, that agents are treated fairly, and they have everything [they] need to do their job safely.”
School safety agents are NYPD employees, though the city recently moved to have the Education Department take them over in the future.
“Dangerous people are running DOE,” Sheinkopf said. “They have no regard for the health of school safety agents. What’s wrong with these people?”
With Michael Elsen-Rooney
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