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Guards will stay in Lindenhurst elementary schools

The Lindenhurst Board of Education Wednesday night reversed a decision to remove security guards from its elementary schools after criticism from angry parents.

Dozens packed the Wednesday night school board meeting, the first since parents held a protest over the removals and began bombarding school officials with emails calling for their return.

In December, the board voted to remove the guards at the district's six elementary schools. Each school had received an unarmed guard after the December 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school killings in Newtown, Conn.

School officials said the guards were never intended to be permanent and were not budgeted.

In reversing course, officials said the $200,000 cost of keeping the guards will come out of the district's $5.8 million unappropriated fund balance. Last month, the school board also approved new security measures expected to cost $400,000, including additional video cameras and video intercom systems.

While some board members said they had made a mistake in removing the guards, others stood by their decision. Citing the sparse attendance at several previous meetings on the subject, Robert Vitiello said he "had a problem" with everyone who "voiced their opinion on Facebook instead of coming to a board meeting like this."

Board member Linda Aniello said she wanted to make the buildings safer but questioned the effectiveness of the guards. "I don't think one man can stop a madman," she said.

However, parents told the board the guards make a difference and criticized cost concerns. "If you were going to commit a crime, is a camera going to deter you or is a body in front of you going to deter you?" said Darlene Simolin, adding that the issue "shouldn't be about dollars and cents."

Board member Edward Murphy Jr. proposed reinstating the guards for the remainder of the school year, noting that media attention to the parents' protest "could heighten the security risk." The request was unanimously approved.

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