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Riverhead school board hires new team for districtwide security

The Riverhead Board of Education hired a new team to manage districtwide security at the Aug. 15 meeting.

MR Safety Consulting Corp. was hired on a one-year contract, extending from Aug. 18 to June 30, 2018, at a rate of $90,000. The approval was made by a vote of 6-0. Board member Therese Zuhoski was absent.

The firm is headed by owner and president Michael Rodriguez, who is currently a security guard in the Brentwood School District. School board president Greg Meyer said Mr. Rodriguez will be the district’s “day-to-day go-to person” regarding security matters.

Mr. Rodriguez was present at last Tuesday’s meeting, along with company vice president, Byron Craig. Mr. Craig’s main focus will be professional development and training of existing district security staff, and will fill in for Mr. Rodriguez as needed, Mr. Meyer said.

Mr. Meyer said the district was forced to hire a new security consulting firm after the previous firm, Covert Investigations of Oakdale, told the board it wasn’t interested in renewing its contract.

“We’re only allowed by law to do one-year contracts with everything and everybody,” Mr. Meyer said. “Toward the end of last year, the security group came to us and said they wished to part ways with us. So we put out an RFP again and MR Safety Consulting was the only one that put in an bid.”

Hired for the 2016-17 school year, Covert Investigations faced controversy last winter when parents considered bringing a lawsuit against the school for the way security personnel, especially security director Richard Anderson, had handled a situation involving 13 black students.

Parents said their children were locked in a room, and their cellphones confiscated, because of a video distributed over social media. The parents maintained their children weren’t involved in the incident — allegedly depicting a sexual act being performed on school grounds — and said the questioning was racially charged. At the time, they called for Mr. Anderson’s resignation.

MR Safety Consulting Corp. is the latest of several short-lived security consultants engaged by the district. Before Covert Investigations, James Gresham was hired as security director, but he resigned in April 2015 after only six months in the position.

Mr. Meyer said the district has been “back and forth” with security options over the last few years, so they know what choices are out there and are optimistic about the future with MR Safety.

“Some firms we already interviewed and didn’t think it was the right fit,” he said. “We’re really hoping that this time who we just hired now is going to be a great fit and we are able to move on from here.”

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