PATERSON - Two Paterson elementary schools were without crossing guards for the first day of the school year, and parents are concerned.
Teachers had to act as crossing guards at Dr. Hani Awadallah School and School 16 Tuesday and again Wednesday morning because no crossing guards were available to patrol the schools.
"These teachers stepped up big time in ensuring that the safety of our children just didn't happen in the classroom but also on their way home," says Paterson School Board President Dr. Christopher Irving.
Dr. Irving says that teachers do not really have the proper training to be crossing guards, and it isn’t fair to depend on them all of the time.
Parents say that the lack of crossing guards at the Dr. Hani Awadallah School was especially concerning because it is a new school and many drivers speed past, not knowing that there are children nearby.
"It can get very busy. The intersection is new. It's about a year or two old so it can get very busy,” says parent Tina White.
Typically if there are no crossing guards available, Paterson police officers will temporarily step in. But city officials say that the police department has been stretched thin and were not available to come to the schools.
Crossing guards were on hand at both schools by the end of the school day Wednesday.
School officials say that they want to see two permanent crossing guards at each school. Council members say they sent the mayor a memorandum last week letting him know of the shortage.
City officials did not say what caused the lapse at the two schools.