Sewanhaka mothers say more needs to be done by district following tragedies

Sewanhaka mothers say more needs to be done by district following tragedies
Leslyn Stewart speaks to the Sewanhaka Board of Education Tuesday night. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

Two Sewanhaka district mothers called for armed security guards at all schools after a school shooting in Texas on Tuesday and for better district communication during tragedies at Tuesday night’s board of education meeting.

Nineteen children and two adults were killed Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The lone gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, arrived at Robb Elementary School with a long rifle and body armor before being shot and killed by law enforcement, according to multiple reports.

It is now the second-deadliest school shooting in the United States.

Peggy Asciutto touted the need for the district to provide students with information on guidance services aside from just emailing it to parents.

Asciutto also cited a shooting in Buffalo last week where 18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly live-streamed a deadly attack at a Tops Friendly Markets store, killing 10 black people and injuring three others.

“My child came home from school that day and I asked her if she knew anything about the shooting,” Asciutto said. “She said no. I asked her did anybody discuss with you that there are counseling services available? She said no.”

Asciutto continued by asking for more at Sewanhaka to increase safety.

“I along with many of my peers are wondering when the district is going to address the urgent need for armed security guards at all our schools,” Asciutto said. “I don’t really know what else there is to suggest and I just think that’s what we need”

Superintendent James Grossane said that he will look into Asciutto’s request while adding there is a state law that prohibits the district from having armed guards. 

Leslyn Stewart reiterated Asciutto’s sentiments while calling for the need to stand together. She also commended the state for canceling the history and government Regent’s exam, scheduled for June 1, following the shooting.

“I stand before you as someone who understands tragedy too well. I think that there should have been some phone numbers following the email, at least some direct contact that the students had to follow up with,” Stewart said. “We all know and saw the tragedy that happened in Buffalo, an 18-year-old white male, Payton Gendron had been planning this attack since three years before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19.”

Stewart added to her remarks and said Nassau County could have been the target of the shooting.

“As reported, Gendron says he considered targeting a shopping mall in Rochester, New York, one in the town of Greece as well as supermarkets in Hempstead, Long Island. Clearly, racism doesn’t only show up by teenagers holding up bananas and saying ‘monkeys come get these.’ We can no longer stand together if some of us continue to live in bliss and ignorance and conduct business as usual. Today, I applaud the experts who viewed and in the recent violent act in Buffalo as traumatic and have canceled the US History and Government regions in efforts to support students and communities who are strongly impacted.”

Stewart referenced an incident last year when a spectator at an away game for Elmont Memorial High School’s girls’ junior varsity basketball game.

The next Sewanhaka Board of Education meeting will be held Tuesday, June 21. 

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