As part of a new string of safety measures within Scarsdale schools, all school staff within the district will be required to wear photo IDs and keep them visible while on school grounds starting April 29.
“Employees have always been encouraged to wear their IDs,” said Stuart Mattey, assistant superintendent for business at the Scarsdale School District. “We just sent an email out saying we really are requiring people to wear them … and to cooperate and recognize that this makes all of us more safe.”
A number of teachers in the district are concerned that this new requirement will shift the culture for students and that the visibility of IDs serves to give schools only the appearance of safety.
“I understand the concerns of the community and the concerns of our first responders in terms of being able to adequately do their jobs in cases of an emergency,” Carlos Bedoya, a Scarsdale High School social studies teacher, said. However, he added, “I sort of see ID badges [as] insinuating that we are in a sort of perpetual state of threat by which at any time, any adult in the building that’s not properly identified could potentially be someone who is a threatening hostile person.”
Bedoya, who has been teaching at the high school for five years, said he is concerned about the cultural shift this new requirement will put onto students and, in his view, the constant showing of IDs could hinder the welcoming school environment and student learning.
“It unfortunately reinforces this narrative that there are threats that walk among us that we have to be ever vigilant about, which serves to further separate and divide us than bring us together as a community,” Bedoya said. “Where do you say, ‘this is actually keeping us safe’ versus ‘this is appearing to keep us safe’?”
The district is aware that with new security protocols will come an inherent change in culture for faculty and students.
Drew Patrick, assistant superintendent for HR and leadership development in the district, said although discussions do occur at regular meetings with union leadership and the public, some changes in regards to safety and security will happen without the ability to account for everybody’s opinion.
“I’m sure this doesn’t feel good to some teachers and faculty and staff,” Patrick said. “It feels like perhaps another change to the culture, which … it is, just [like] having safety monitors at our doors … is a change,” said Patrick. “The changes that we’ve implemented including visitor management … create even more of a situation where it’s just good practice to have your ID.”
David Wixted, president of the Scarsdale Teachers Association, could not be reached for comment.
Safety, security and emergency management saw a 175 percent increase in the adopted 2019-20 school budget, with a planned $1.3 million being spent on an expanded visitor management system, security consultation, and infrastructure to install security cameras. Security vestibules will be built at several Scarsdale elementary schools this summer as well.
Patrick Healy, a social studies teacher at SHS, sees the issues surrounding visible IDs as a small part of a much larger issue regarding the future of school security.
“I am strongly of the opinion that the ID cards are not a measure that actually increases the safety of our students on a day-to-day basis,” said Healy who has been a teacher for 15 years. “As far as I know, we weren’t presented with any data that suggested that ID badges make schools safer.”
Healy has not received a replacement ID since his original teacher orientation in 2011. Besides looking eight years older, the picture on his ID differs from his current appearance.
“It’s almost less about the ID cards and more about, when does it stop? What is that ultimate goal for security at our schools?,” said Healy. “It’s interesting to think about what Monday will bring.”