Cleveland dealing with school security guard shortage at time they’re needed most

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a big shortage of Cleveland school security officers.

And, it comes at a time of more kids causing trouble along with more threats of violence circulating at area schools. So, we investigated. And, we went to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO to find out what’s being done about it.

We’ve learned the Cleveland school system is short dozens of security officers. Put another way, the district says the security staff is down about a quarter.

Multiple security guards for the district have reached out to the I-Team. We asked one what is her greatest concern. She said, “The safety of our children. And, not enough of us to cover doors, to cover the building, to cover sporting events.”

Weeks ago, we investigated a series of fights at Glenville High School. A worker called 911 for police because the school did not have enough of its own security.

“We have only two security officers in the entire building,” the worker said on the 911 call.

The I-Team also reviewed a memo and an email from the CEO of Cleveland schools responding to security concerns raised by employees. One step the district has taken to try to address the problem started at district headquarters The district has moved security officers out of there and into schools.

“Little things become big things, and then fights break out,” CEO Eric Gordon said.

With COVID-19, school hallways are filled with more tension, Gordon said. So, the shortage of security officers is critical.

Gordon told us the district has been trying to hire more, but it seems every agency and every industry nationwide is having trouble hiring.

“Parents should be assured that every person in this organization, including me personally, are doing all we can to ensure a safe, secure, and effective environment,” he said.

The President of the Cleveland Teachers Union, Shari Obrenski said, “It is a concern for us in the classroom.”

Parents have reached out to us, too. Everyone has been telling us that students, these days, are more likely to explode in a rage.

“We are seeing more severe behaviors than in school than we have before,” Obrenski added. “I think that’s something every district in every community is seeing.”

And, that security officer added, “The kids are more disrespectful. The fights are more vicious.”

The district CEO points out, he’s been working outside of headquarters in one of the schools to free up other people to help with the security crunch. He says other top administrators have done the same thing.

The district has not hired an outside firm to help with security with concern that could be a union violation.

The district and the union for security staff are negotiating a new contract. Gordon hopes a new contract will help attract more people to take the job patrolling the schools.

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