Three Pennsylvania Jewish Day Schools Receive Grants to Hire School Police Officer

OU Advocacy, the non-partisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, congratulates Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and the Silver Academy in Harrisburg for receiving a School Police Officer Grant for the 2014-15 school year. Each school will receive $40,000 that they can use to hire a security officer.

OU Advocacy worked closely with Pennsylvania legislators to ensure that non-public schools would be included in the Safe School Legislation, which was passed in 2013. When a “hiccup” within the law precluding Jewish day schools and other non-public schools from participating in the Safe School grant program was discovered, OU Advocacy worked closely with State Senator Joe Scarnati to devise a solution that would give non-public schools access to the grant. The amendment to the Safe School Legislation was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by Governor Corbett in July.

The amended legislation allows Pennsylvania’s non-public schools to apply directly to the Commonwealth for the grant. Once selected, a non-public school would choose a guard from a list of state-approved vendors.

OU Advocacy has long been at the forefront of the nationwide effort to get non-public schools included in states’ safety/security programs.

“By passing the amendment to the Safe School Legislation, our state legislators sent a clear message that the safety and security of all of the Commonwealth’s students is paramount, regardless of where one goes to school,” said Karen Barall, Mid-Atlantic Director for OU Advocacy. “A safe environment is a key ingredient for helping students flourish and thrive.”

“We are very grateful to OU Advocacy for its commitment to making the Safe School grant program work for non-public schools. This grant will enable us to hire a police officer for our school and truly provide a safe environment for our students,” said Stuart Gasner of the Torah Academy.

“The safety and security of our children is always our top priority in education. We are very grateful to have been awarded this grant and thank OU Advocacy for guiding us through the application process,” said Benjamin Chadwell of the Silver Academy.

“Through the Safe Schools program and the Homeland Security Program, Hillel Academy has been able to enhance security for our children. We appreciate OU Advocacy’s creative and persistent pursuit of a solution that made it possible for non-public schools to participate in the grant program,” said Daniel Kraut of Hillel Academy.

“We are delighted that Torah Academy, Hillel Academy and Silver Academy received Pennsylvania’s Safe School grants,” said Barall. “We will continue to work with Pennsylvania’s Jewish day schools to ensure that as many schools as possible are able to take advantage of this very important funding.”