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School Security Firm Under Fire

Hawk One Security, which is supposed to help keep order in D.C. public schools, is getting tough--with its own guards. That's according to a series of unfair labor practice charges filed by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

SEIU told the National Labor Relations Board last month that Hawk One has illegally surveilled, interrogated and suspended employees "who have participated in lawful union organizing activities to improve their working conditions." The guards are currently represented by the United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA), but some believe they can do better with SEIU.

Hawk One executive Richard Walker said he could not comment on the charges. "The only thing we can say is that this is a battle between SEIU and UGSOA. Hawk One is trying to remain above the fray."

Although District officials say that school crime as a whole is down, several incidents over the last year--including the arrest of 19 Dunbar High School students for fighting and a melee at Anacostia High School that left five students injured--have raised questions about Hawk One's effectiveness. Guards have been criticized for being poorly trained and inappropriately friendly with students. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has said that she is working with the police department to upgrade the training that guards receive.

Jaime Contreras, Local 32BJ's Capitol Area District director, said different union representation would help force an improvement. "Hawk One's track record of negligence and faulty management at public schools and other District sites puts the public and our students at further risk."


By Bill Turque  |  July 8, 2009; 9:10 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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