The discovery by a school bus driver, who alerted school security, led to a lockdown and school closure for students.
“This situation is very concerning,” GHTA said in a statement. “However, more concerning is that it represents yet another incident in a series of serious security issues that continue to threaten the safety and well-being of Garfield Heights students and the educators who serve them.”
According to GHTA after the lockdown, teachers did not receive additional communication from administrators regarding student safety.
“Instead, they were left to rely on information their students were able to discover, either from social media or from announcements from the Garfield Heights Police Department.
“As of the writing of this press release there has been no announcement from the district to the teachers about what happened at the middle school.
“When the lockdown was implemented, some students were evacuated to the gym at Maple Leaf Elementary School, yet even by 11 a.m. teachers at Maple Leaf were not informed of what was going on at the middle school.”
Parents received an automated phone call regarding early dismissal. However, at least one parent said, prior to the call being issued, they were initially alerted by their child observing social media posts.
Janira Taylor said when she called the school to ask about the social media posts her son showed her, she was told it was a drill.
“The fact you would lie to a parent and I’m on the way to bring my son and you all don’t really know what’s going on, but you know it’s not a drill. That bothers me because it’s a lot going on and they’re really shooting these schools up,” said Taylor.
The district superintendent declined interviews about the incident. The following statement was issued on behalf of the district:
“Students attending Garfield Heights Middle School will be dismissed for the remainder of the school day so that the Garfield Heights Police Department can thoroughly complete their safety and security assessment of the building. This news comes as the result of a lockdown procedure that was implemented at the beginning of the day, due to the identification of contraband outside the building before the school day began, and during which all students and staff remained safe.”
“GHTA members are heartbroken for our students today, because we know how deeply things like this affect them,” said GHTA spokesperson Susan Hart, a 7th grade teacher. “Students cannot learn and thrive unless they are in an environment where they feel safe, and they are struggling to feel safe in their schools right now.”
The teachers’ association’s contract expired in June. A new bargaining date is set for October 11. Teacher said they will continue to advocate for improved school safety standards.
The GHTA represents 260 full-time and part-time educators in the Garfield Heights City School District.