Emptied, latched locker signals security shift for hallways


Photo Credit: Julia Rooney

Lockers must be locked at all times when not in use, according to a policy enforced by vice principal Pasciuto.

by Lilia Wood, Editor-in-Chief

The vice principal removed a senior’s possessions from his unlocked, open locker, which raised questions about both school security and student privacy on school grounds.

“First of all, it was unlocked and completely opened,” vice principal Mr. Michael Pasciuto said. “Secondly, I can do it.”

Pasciuto did not want the football player’s clothes or books. Rather, he was demonstrating what could happen to an open locker. The student said that the vice principal was invading his personal property.

“Honestly, I have had it unlocked since freshman year and this was the first time it ever happened,” the student said. “I was confused. He told me that Mrs. Crowley had my stuff and just said not to do it again.”

As Pasciuto oversees the hallways everyday, he is not only observing student behavior. He also has to make sure that every locker is closed and has a secure lock on it.

“Lockers that are opened and I see stuff in, I just put the lock on because kids need to lock their lockers, so stuff is not stolen,” Pasciuto said.

The administration was surprised how many upperclassmen, seniors particularly, left their lockers unlocked.

“I always leave it unlocked,” the student said. “I feel pretty safe in Glen Rock.”

For Pasciuto, the open locker was in breach of school protocols.

“It is really a simple thing. And the funny thing is kids make it out to be that I am trying to be some big bad guy, but it is not that complicated,” Pascuito said. “As you get older, you learn that there are some battles not worth having. This is not a battle worth having.”

Prior to the surprise lockdown on Oct. 8 by the State Department of Education, Homeland Security, the Glen Rock Police Department and others, the school policy was to have a lock on every locker for maintenance reasons. The administration did not want other students putting their belongings in a locker that was not assigned to them. For example, there were lunches and dirty physical education clothes found in lockers over the summer.

Any unassigned locker has a backwards lock on it to prevent students from using them. In the upstairs science wing, there are about 40 empty lockers.

Yet the lockdown drill brought the locked lockers safety enforcement to another level.

“If lockers aren’t locked, it leaves the school vulnerable for kids putting something dangerous in lockers. So, that’s where the policy is coming from,” Pasciuto explained. “With all the things I have to do, I don’t want to have to walk around and lock lockers.”

Unlocked lockers are also susceptible to items being stolen. Pasciuto has already had students with missing belongings this year, so he had to sit down with them and watch their lockers on the camera to find the suspect.

“Each time, so far, we have found the person. Normally, it is a friend just joking around, but, in any case, it’s a problem,” Pasciuto said. “It leads to a problem of important things being stolen, like laptops or cellphones.”

A locker is like rented space. We are the landlords, so we can go in there anytime whether it is opened or locked.”

— Mr. Michael Pasciuto, Vice Principal

Most students do not understand that anything on the school’s ground is property of the school. The school owns the lockers and has more power than the police on school grounds.

“A locker is like rented space,” he said, referencing Glen Rock Board of Education Policy 5145.12. “We are the landlords, so we can go in there anytime whether it is opened or locked.”

Some students believe that the fourth amendment of the Constitution protects them from search and seizure in school, but it is not about search and seizure: it is about safety.

Pasciuto experienced similar locker issues in Cresskill, where he previously taught history. Unlike those is Glen Rock, the doors at Cresskill High School are locked at night and students are not allowed in the building.

“Here it is a little more open because the community uses the school like the community school, APR, classrooms, so it is more of an open campus, which is more of a reason to keep things locked,” Pasciuto said.

Pasciuto does believe emptying students’ lockers teaches them a lesson about privacy and safety, and he has seen positive feedback.

“The one individual that I emptied his locker now keeps his locker locked, so I guess that worked out,” the vice principal said.

Other policies that Pasciuto has been enforcing this school year include the new Hamilton lobby kiosk for tardy students and seniors not signing-in after returning from option.

“I compared, just last week, the tardies this year compared to this time last year and it is down significantly, which is something that seems to be working,” Pasciuto said.