Schenectady County

Schenectady crossing guard allegedly slept while on duty

A crossing guard may have been sleeping in his car while students in kindergarten through eighth

PHOTOGRAPHER:

A crossing guard may have been sleeping in his car while students in kindergarten through eighth grade walked to Central Park Magnet School Monday morning, according to police.

A resident reported seeing the sleeping guard near his post at Nora Avenue and Elm Street, spokesman Sgt. Eric Clifford said. The complaint was relayed to a parking attendant, who called police.

But by the time officers arrived, the guard was on the street doing his job, Clifford said.

Officers will check up on him regularly to make sure he doesn’t sleep on duty, Clifford added.

School spokeswoman Karen Corona said the district is satisfied that police will make sure guards get the students safely across the city’s busiest streets.

“We are very concerned when anyone, charged with ensuring student safety, does not meet those obligations or puts children at risk. We are also confident that the police are handling the matter. We will cooperate in every way,” she said. “The crossing guards play an important role in helping our students get to school safely.”

Monday’s investigation was the latest in a two-year effort by the police to more firmly regulate the guards.

The Police Department, which supervises the guards, put them on notice in 2008 with a written warning that if they continued to call in sick whenever it snowed or rained, they would be fired.

Last year, several guards had their hours halved — although police said that decision was based on the children’s reduced usage of certain crossings, not their guards’ poor performance.

Police have been studying the usage issue because uniformed officers must stand at each crossing if the designated guard calls in sick.

On some snowy days, particularly when school is delayed, police say a third of the 30 guards call in sick, forcing the city to put much of its patrol force on crossing-guard duty for two hours.

To address the absenteeism, the council is now offering a bonus each quarter to crossing guards with excellent attendance, defined as calling in no more than twice in a three-month period. The council also raised each guard’s salary to $10 an hour, up from $8.65. But the raise came with a price: every guard must sign an affidavit swearing that he or she has worked their full shifts before receiving a paycheck.

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