EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Five candidates are running for three seats on the East Brunswick Board of Education on Tuesday, November 5. TAPinto East Brunswick has asked each candidate a set of questions so that readers can learn their views on important elements involved in advising the administration of the East Brunswick Public Schools. Questions were sent to the candidates - Liwu Hong, Heather Guas, Mark Csizmar, Curt Philipczak, and Wesam Berjaoui - last week. The answers to one question at a time will appear in a series of four articles here on TAP.
The third question presents an object of discussion for many years as school districts across the nation face increased threats to student and staff safety. The East Brunswick Public Schools made national news for bringing armed security guards -generally retired police officers - into each of the school buildings within the district. This move had been in process for more than a year, and was implemented following the Parkland, FL school shootings.
3. What is your view of the recent inclusion of armed security guards in the East Brunswick Public Schools?
Liwu Hong - "Students' safety is and shall always be the Board’s highest priority. The Board shall invest as much as needed to deal with new security challenges. Our society is changing dramatically, our Board of Education shall constantly review our studying and teaching environment to make sure our students and teachers are safe when they stay in our schools. Of course, the inclusion of armed security guards will increase our cost, but, the benefits our students and teachers gained far overweigh the cost itself; therefore, I support the inclusion of armed security guards in our schools."
Mark Csizmar - " As the Chairman of the Board Security committee, I support having armed Safety and Security Officers in our schools. Our Officers are dedicated men and women that are all retired Law Enforcement Officers. If we combine their years of service, we come up with over 2000 years of experience protecting others. The Officers that are armed all receive annual background checks and are certified by the NJ State Police to carry a firearm. Our Officers, Administrators, Teachers and school staff are given training in many aspects of security every year. Prevention of any harm to our students, staff, and visitors is our goal."
Curt Philipczak - "It truly saddens my heart to hear about any instances of a shooting at any school. Just this October 21st there was an occurrence in Santa Rosa, California. Naturally as a parent with two children in our public schools, my thoughts shift the impact this must have on their overall community. I hope East Brunswick will never have to deal with such an event. Although I may not totally agree with one perfect particular method of security, I realize to reach a conscience decision a board member needs to logically listen to seasoned security professionals that give data on the best way to make our schools the safest they can be."
Wesam Berjaoui - "I think it is a wonderful idea and implementation to have armed security guards in the East Brunswick Public School district as they are certified trained officers on how to properly use a firearm along with being trained to look for suspicious activities and to prevent them from happening. I am not in favor of arming teachers and staff as their focus should be on educating our students, not on school security."
Heather Guas - " I am tremendously proud as a parent of three, and East Brunswick Resident, of East Brunswick's initiatives for student safety. I think in comparison to other school districts within the county and state we lead the way in student safety. The changes to the school's entryways, the use of the Lobby Guard program and the highly qualified security officers within the schools makes me feel that the District is working diligently to protect our children and the school staff. East Brunswick has acted thoughtfully by employing many retired police officers as school security guards, who bring with them years of training and experience into our schools. Because of the proactive and thoughtful manner with which the current Board of Education and the Administration have acted, I agree that the inclusion of highly experienced, armed security guards within the schools was a wise choice for school safety."