Investigator: Security risks endangering preschoolers?

10:56 PM, Sep 14, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND - A Channel 3 News hidden-camera investigation has exposed a potential security breach at a government-funded preschool program on the city's West Side that employees say puts them and students in potential danger.

Insiders say that employees of the Willard Head Start preschool are required to let anyone into the West 95th Street building because the school shares the facility with the building landlord, who lives with his family on the second floor.

The school has a receptionist near the entrance of the building. But there is at least one classroom accessible to visitors before they reach the receptionist area.

School employees told an undercover producer that the situation puts them at risk because they don't have a way to defend themselves against an attack.

One employee joked that she would be forced to defend herself with office supplies.

"We got a lot of things we're going to defend ourselves with," the employee said. "You might get some papers flying at you. A TV. A flashlight. See that's our weapon....I can staple you. Hole-punch you."

Parents are also concerned.

"They could have sex offenders, anything like that (going upstairs)," said one mother. "I'm going to have to call up there and find out what's going on before I send my daughter to school. Because I don't like that at all."

Insiders say the family has been living upstairs since at least February and that administrators at the Council for Economic Opportunities for Greater Cleveland which oversees the Head Start program in the area, has not acted to address the situation, despite the safety concerns.

Senior Vice President Brian Gleisser denied that, saying CEOGC administrators have no knowledge of it.

"We have not been told of those concerns formally or informally for that matter," said Gleisser, who oversees Head Start facilities.

"Our space is secured. We've had no issues....What the landlord is doing upstairs is really his business."

A city building inspector visited the school after Channel 3 News raised questions about the landlord living in the building. Results of the inspection were not immediately available.


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