Cleveland Schools CEO Eric Gordon gave updates on school security improvements at Tuesday evening’s board of education meeting, following up on promises he made to parents and teachers two weeks ago after high school student Pierre McCoy was shot outside a school building while waiting for the bus.
Gordon said the district now employs 119 full time and 21 part-time security officers.
This is an increase from January 13th, when the district reported 75 vacancies.
There are still 64 vacant full time positions (the district has budgeted for 183 full time security officers).
Gordon also noted that the 21 part-time employees are slated to complete the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy (OPOTA), which is provided in-house by CMSD’s police commander. After completing this training, they will be able to become full-time security officers as well.
The CEO also addressed concerns about the school districts’ security cameras. A teacher from Marion C. Seltzer Elementary school told the board at its last meeting that the cameras outside her school were blurry and defective.
“We have also been really focused on making sure our cameras are operational,” Gordon said. There are 5,400 cameras in and around school buildings across the district and 5,212 are operating properly. The remaining 192 outages are being serviced, he said.
The week of McCoy’s tragic death, Gordon announced that CMSD would begin giving Cleveland Police access to district security cameras outside school buildings in order to increase safety and surveillance for students before and after the school day.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, he said that this has already been done at John Adams College and Career Academy and John F. Kennedy High School and that cameras at 14 additional schools would be integrated into the city’s surveillance system in coming months.
Schools part of CMSD’s and CDP’s surveillance program: East Technical HS, Glenville HS, Collinwood HS, John Marshall School of Engineering, Rhodes HS, Max Hayes HS, John Hay HS, Mary Bethune, Robert Jamison, Luis Muñoz Marin, Marion Seltzer, Charles Mooney and Facing History New Tech.
According to Gordon, these schools were identified by Cleveland Police as areas in need of greater surveillance.
Teachers urge the board to do more about safety issues in their buildings
After Gordon shared the announcements, the board opened the floor to public comment.
Among the teachers who spoke was Vincent Stokes, who said he was tired of the board glossing over the problem. He added that he sees multiple security guards at the district’s East Professional Center, while his own school doesn’t even have a full-time security guard assigned.
“When you continue to overlook the security issues in these buildings, you tell me, in essence, that you don’t care about my life,” he said. “You don’t find it an issue until someone is killed outside of a school. I want you to be reactive and I want you to be proactive. Every school needs a security guard.”