The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

District Plans to Enhance Security Emerge From Remote Learning Day

Parents publish their own ideas via petition; both call for heightened ID enforcement, restrictions on cell phone use
Parents created a petition today demanding heightened security at the high school. More than 136 people signed it within two hours. The petition calls for restrictions on cell phone use and the presence of uniformed police officers at school, among other demands.

Principal Eric Juli announced impending security changes in response to violent incidents that occurred this week and led to asynchronous learning today, and parents are gathering signatures in support of their own suggestions. 

“We acknowledge that consequences are not enough, and that the events of the past week are indications of the need for significant changes in procedures at the High School,” Juli stated in an email message to students and families sent at 6:49 p.m.

The building was placed in stay-put status during Crew on Tuesday due to rumors that an intruder had entered. Police searched the building and found no unauthorized occupants. Thursday, two trespassers were arrested at the high school after entering through an unlocked door, walking to the cafeteria and assaulting students in the senior lounge. Friday, students attended asynchronous learning as, Juli said, Shaker’s administrative team, faculty and staff spent the day reviewing these events and developing plans to address them. 

One of these plans is the review and potential revision of current cell phone policies. Jennifer March-Wackers, parent of sophomore Jacob Wackers, said that the district should change its cellphone policy. “I think it’s probably past time to address that,” she said. 

Students regularly record fights at the high school and share the videos. Groups of students could be seen walking the halls during sixth period this week, hunched over phones and iPads, replaying the conflicts that just occurred in the cafeteria. Social media use also contributes to conflict and coordination of fighting at school. 

Akron Public Schools requires middle and high school students to lock their cell phones in a small bag known as a Yondr Pouch when they arrive. Students use unlocking devices to reclaim their phones at the end of the day. The APS website states that the district field-tested the process and felt it was effective at limiting “in-school distractions” and “promoting more communication among students.”  

March-Wackers said that the district should take the Yondr Pouch or other phone-use solutions into account. “I guess it’s up to the district to figure out if that approach or other ways are the best for our particular school,” she said.

Juli’s email also mentioned planning for a safety and security audit to be conducted by an independent, third-party agency.

March-Wackers supports the idea of bringing in an outside consultant to review safety policies. “Those are the kind of things that you can never have enough conversation around, and it’s really important to keep those fresh and up to date,” she said. “Because the high school isn’t the same high school it was two years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago. Things are constantly changing.” 

A group of high school parents created and is circulating an online petition titled, “Demand School Safety – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” The petition gathered 111 signatures in fewer than 90 minutes.

“We, the parents and guardians of Shaker Heights High School students, are writing to express our outrage over the ongoing safety issues at the high school, and the lack of a commitment to addressing these issues with permanent and sustainable solutions,” the petition stated.

The petition listed suggested solutions, including heightened door security, the disablement of cell phones and computerized devices by Yondr Pouches or firewalls, and the daily presence of uniformed Shaker Heights police officers.

“I think that there are probably some things that have been longer-standing issues than parents may realize that maybe could’ve been addressed earlier than this moment,” said March-Wackers. “But I think given the severity of the various events happening lately, now’s the time to act.”

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