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Police to Review Security For Polls in Schools

Some Fair Lawn residents raised concerns about voters entering schools during elections.

file photo
file photo
Fair Lawn officials will seek a police review of school security during elections after parents raised concerns, they said during a council meeting last week.

Most of Fair Lawn's schools have direct entrances to the rooms with the polls. Three schools — Forrest School, Memorial School and Fair Lawn High School — do not, and voters must walk the halls from the main entrance to the polls.

Councilman Kurt Peluso said he had received emails from several parents raising concerns about safety with the practice.

"In today's day and age, having residents go into these schools is not what it used to be," Peluso said.

The call for a review comes almost a year after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Local school officials pledged then to continue their drills and work with police, and Fair Lawn police have increased their presence in schools through the re-instituted D.A.R.E. program and added patrols this year. The high school also has a school resource officer on duty.

Peluso suggested moving polling locations to nearby municipal or fire department buildings, but that may not be easy, if possible at all. Any change of polling place would require approval from the Bergen County Board of Elections, and the fire department and parks department garages that happen to be near schools are not heated.

The polling entrance at Lyncrest School was moved to the gym where elections take place this year, but a similar move may not be possible at other schools. The county generally wants the entrance to be as convenient as possible, so they likely would not approve a change to move an entrance further from parking.

"That, the county will not like because you're disenfranchising people," municipal clerk Joanne Kwasniewski said.

Mayor John Cosgrove suggested the police review as a way for the borough to address residents' concerns.

"It's two days a year," he said. "If we have to put a police officer on duty there, we have to do it."
joan December 21, 2013 at 06:50 PM
When I was a child there were no classes on election day. Since we have no classes on some teacher in service days why don't we schedule in-service days for election day? Joan H

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