Crosswalks at some D.C. Public Schools do not have crossing guards, reports Stephen Smith in today’s DC Examiner.
The School Crossing Guard Program was transferred to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) this year, but DDOT needs 200 part-time adult crossing guards and has 134. DC Councilman Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, says he has observed some MPD officers doing school crossing duty and some school crossings, but MPD spokesperson Traci Hughes says this is not the case.
There are so many agencies involved in the question of school crossing safety, in DC and nationwide, there is bound to be confusion. Perhaps this jumble of agencies needs a traffic cop as much as our kids do:
DC Public Schools bears political and moral, if not legal, responsibility for student safety in the immediate school area;
DDOT operates the School Crossing Guard Program
MPD monitors vehicle traffic in school zones;
The National Safe Routes to School Center is affiliated with the local SRTS, and
Both are funded through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program.
It appears as if Traci Hughes of MPD was unaware of local SRTS funding of extra MPD school zone enforcement at:
Bancroft Elementary School
E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
Montgomery Elementary School
John Eaton Elementary School
Ben Murch Elementary School
Oyster/Adams Bilingual School (Oyster Campus)
J.G. Whittier Elementary School
DC Preparatory Academy Charter School
Amidon Elementary School
Capitol Hill Cluster School
KIPP DC-Benning Road Campus Charter
Patterson Elementary School
It seems likely that Councilman Mendelson observed officers at these school crossings.
Something else has contributed to U.S. school crossing safety since 1920: the AAA School Safety Patrol, run by the American Automobile Association. School authorities select responsible students for AAA School Safety Patrols of America training and patrol duty. The program is an object lesson in civics as well as a safety precaution. Ask Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and the five current and former Supreme Court Justices, five Olympic Gold Medalists and 21 astronauts who have participated in school safety patrols.
Joseph Beddick, Manager of Safety Services for the AAA Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety & Education, informs NotionsCapital that “DCPD school resource Officers are given a yearly supply of belts/badges and handbooks [operations manuals] for elementary school safety patrol programs.” Perhaps this responsibility needs to be at a higher or more centralized level.
Think AAA School Safety Patrols don’t make a difference? Ask the eight-year-old student at Maryland’s North Chevy Chase Elementary School. 14-year-old AAA School Safety Patrol member Nicole Epstein pulled him from in front of a turning car.
“I do encourage DC schools to participate in the AAA Safety Patrol,” says Jennifer Hefferan, the DDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator. So does NotionsCapital.
Image generated by Mike Licht through Redkid.net