Garfield Heights, OH. - Garfield Heights Mayor Matthew Burke recently experienced lockdown procedures at the Garfield Heights High School. On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at approximately noon, Mayor Burke attended a focus meeting with students. The Mayor was the guest to participate in a dialogue with a consultant Bill Wagner, Co-Director of First Ring Schools Collaborative, discussing what the students expected from a school superintendent. Garfield Heights School Board recently hired an executive search firm to aid the board with finding a new superintendent. The current Superintendent, Chris Hanke, resigned. This year with Garfield Schools will be final.
At approximately 12:30 pm, the administrator's message from the intercom system interrupted the focus. "I was concerned. The administrator advised the students and employees that a student may have a firearm. I am listening to the message from the intercom system, and the young people are running for cover. Students ran into hiding. I assured them that the police would handle this situation," said Mayor Burke.
The school's app notified the parents of the situation as the matter unfolded. The Garfield Heights school system uses an app called "Reminder." The app is a communication tool to keep parents abreast of daily activities and crises. Ms. Sannata Crowell, a parent, spoke with us about the incident. "My son notified me of this situation. Immediately following, I received a message from the school. The announcement alerted parents of the incident," stated Ms. Crowell. "At approximately 12:30 pm on today's date, staff at the Garfield High School was alerted by a student that another student was possibly possessing a firearm. Upon being confronted by security, that student fled out of the school. Because school officials could not confirm his whereabouts, the school placed the building on lockdown. Garfield Heights Police responded, and they located the student in question a few blocks away from the school. The police found a firearm and arrested the juvenile. After that, the school lifted the lockdown. The school's dismissal proceeded as normal", as per the message from the Reminder app.
"The students appeared to be traumatized. I am concerned. During the focus group, students talked a lot about safety issues. I am worried about their safety. It bothers me how leaders talk about what's best for our kids when they don't listen to them or want to hear from them. I am listening. I would have taken a bullet for our young people," stated Mayor Burke.
Garfield Heights, Ohio, is a suburb located in Cuyahoga County. According to the 2020 census, the city has approximately 28,000 residents. According to Garfield Heights School District, the district serves about 1,166 students in grades 9-12.
"Yesterday's level of trauma is real. I felt the student's fear. The police trained for this; I would not let anything happen to our children. I witnessed this incident firsthand as the police dealt with this crisis. What puzzles me is why the administrators directed the young people to report to their 7th-period class. The school should have offered the students resources. Safety should always be our number one concern. Is anyone listening," stated Mayor Burke.