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Oct 8, 2018 4:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Springs School Launches New Security System

Security Guard Patrick Milazzo demonstrating how to use the Fast Pass Security System at Springs School on Thursday, October 4. ELIZABETH VESPE
Oct 12, 2018 1:06 PM

On Thursday afternoon, Springs School students strolled up to receptionist Brenda Crozier’s desk at the front entrance to pick up lunches dropped off by their parents. Since a new Fast Pass security system was installed, parents are no longer allowed to simply walk into the school and drop off lunch.

As of September, visitors must have a picture taken before the first time they enter the school, and the image will be used on return visits for a temporary visitor’s pass. In addition, their driver’s licenses are scanned each time they enter the school. According to Superintendent Debra Winter, the system is just one more step toward securing the safety of the children. “Every time you turn around, there’s some kind of shooting,” Ms. Winter stressed.

Security Guard Patrick Milazzo is a retired Sag Harbor police officer and fluent in both Spanish and English. He demonstrated how the Fast Pass works as he spoke.

“When a guest approaches the school, they must use the buzzer to gain entrance to the vestibule,” he said, “Once in the vestibule, the guest must slide their license in and out of the scanning device; after, a photo is taken of the guest.”

Guests will be able to use the buzzer to communicate with the receptionist or the security guards before entering the school if questions arise.

“Before, schools used to be open, and you could walk in,” said Mr. Milazzo, “but that’s no longer the case.”

The Fast Pass also searches police records for crimes involving children, Ms. Winter said. “If you were in a traffic accident, that won’t come up.”

All doors of the school remain locked, with the only way in being the front door.

On Thursday morning, the school had its first lockdown drill of the year. “Everyone knew what to do and how to do it, and that’s with six new teachers,” Ms. Winter said. During the roughly 10-minute drill, Ms. Winter and the security guards checked to make sure every room was locked and not a single student could be seen.

“I think it’s important that the parents and people in the community know that we’re paying attention to safety,” Mr. Milazzo said. “We’re very diligent about who is on the property,” he stressed.

Cameras are placed throughout the outside and inside of all three buildings: the main school building, the portable classrooms in the back and the Springs Youth Association building at the rear of the property.

Kim Notel and other police officers are frequently checking in with the school. According to Mr. Milazzo, the officers supervise school dismissal, and they help with morning traffic.

“The officers let us know the pulse of the community,” added Ms. Winter.

In addition, Tom Pagano, a retired Sag Harbor Police officer, patrols Springs School as a security guard.

Ms. Winter noted that the East Hampton Golf Club has donated a golf cart to the school. “This donation permits the district to respond more quickly to situations that arise on our property,” she said. The cart will be used by the security guards, the athletic department, the school nurse in emergency situations and the custodians.

Mr. Milazzo said he was speaking not only as a security guard, but also as a father, when he said “Our children are the most precious thing to us in the world, and this is just one more important step in the process of keeping our children safe.”

Echoing his sentiments, Ms. Winter said, “Safety is our number one priority—yes, educating the students is important, but safety has to come first.”

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My 3 kids attend sag harbor elementary and we have retired sag harbor police officer as well. If Steve M wasn’t on site, I would be home schooling my kids.
Springs school kids are in great hands with Patrick ..
Keep our kids & teachers safe!!! God bless
By Tommy11963 (7), Sag Harbor on Oct 9, 18 10:22 PM
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