The tragedy in Binghamton - which placed area schools in immediate lockdown - serves as a powerful reminder for why districts need to have updated school safety plans.
NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi urged delegates to make sure their districts and every school building has a viable safety plan in case the unthinkable happens. In Binghamton, the high school was down the street from the American Civic Association, where a man barricaded the back door of the community center Friday and opened fire on a room full of immigrants taking a citizenship class. At least 13 people have died.
"The reason you have safety plans is because you, NYSUT's Representative Assembly, in 2000 passed a resolution asking us to seek legislation," Iannuzzi said. "And I want to remind each of you these school safety plans must be reviewed annually."
Iannuzzi noted it is the 10th anniversary of the Columbine school shootings, which also happened during NYSUT's RA week.
"We are deeply saddened by today's tragic shooting in Binghamton. Once again, a peaceful community is confronted with random and senseless violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in New York's Southern Tier, especially the victims and their families," Iannuzzi and AFT president Randi Weingarten said in a joint statement.
"Members of the AFT and NYSUT stand ready to provide support to the city of Binghamton, its university and community colleges, and its schools from skilled social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses and other public employees. At a time like this, we need to stand together as a family would for all those whose lives have been disrupted by this tragic day," they said.
As Iannuzzi updated delegates on the news, Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress at CUNY campuses, called for a special collection to support victims and their families. "It's an outrage, especially in a center designed to help immigrants," Bowen said.
Delegates and guests from the Binghamton area were invited to use phones and computers in the Convention Management Office in case they needed to reach friends and family.