WHO'S PROTECTING YOUR KIDS?
When the school season began for Elyria High last September they were plagued with many high profile fights and disturbances in and around the area of the school. In one case a worker in the cafeteria sustained fractured ribs while trying to break up a fight. The largest fight, involving about 2 dozen students, was on Middle Ave. near Sederis. That fight drew a dozen Elyria Police Officers to break it up and disperse the very large crowd that had assembled to watch. In response to the fights the school system hired Whittguard Security services, a private security firm out of Lorain, to help control the problems. The Company was hired in November at a rate of $240.00 a day, providing 2 guards patrolling the hallways and a patrol car that would drive around the building and neighborhood. Neighbors had complained to school officials about the fights and students loitering in general. Elyria High has a program called “Open Lunch” which allows older students to leave the school and get lunch from area restaurants alleviating the overcrowding in the school’s cafeteria.
The Security Personnel
TMC NEWS was approached a couple weeks ago with concerns about the security personnel working for Whittguard. It was discovered that several of the security guards have criminal records. On the Whittguard company website they claim the following: “All of our officers have had extensive background checks by the State of Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and are drug tested and fingerprinted upon date of hire.”
Our staff took some of the employee’s names from Whittguard and reviewed court records in Elyria and Lorain Municipal Courts as well as the Lorain County Common Pleas Court. We found that several of the employees have criminal records involving Domestic Violence, DUI, Assaults, Resisting Arrest and others. We have listed some of the information that we found.
Edward J. Garza was arrested on November 12, 2005 by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department for Theft. Elyria Municipal Court issued a Warrant for Mr. Garza for “failure to appear” in relation to this case on September 7, 2006. That warrant was served on Mr. Garza while on duty with Whittguard Security.
January 31, 1999 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for Assault, Disorderly Conduct and persisting.
May 25, 1999 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for Domestic Violence
September 29, 1999 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for telephone harassment.
November 25, 1999 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for Unauthorized use of plates and driving under suspension.
March 11, 2001 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for assault and disorderly conduct.
February 24, 2004 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for assault and domestic violence.
January 6, 2004 arrested by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department for Unauthorized use of plates, expired plates and contempt.
January 1, 2006 arrested by the Elyria Police Department for resisting arrest and assault on a Police Officer. In this incident Elyria Police Officers were trying to arrest Speer’s brother on a warrant when John began fighting with them. Police had to use pepper spray to help subdue Speer.
Taylor, George W
Mr. Taylor’s record is filled with traffic offences including, driving with no plates, driving under suspension, running a red light, failure to control, DUI 10% or more and no lighted plates. All arrests were made by the Lorain Police Department.
Whitt said that the two men he has working at the Elyria High School site have clean records, with the exception of a DUI and other traffic related offences. “I will review all of the documents you have shown me today and review all the records of our employees and where action is needed such as suspension or termination I will do it.”
Whitt invited us back to visit with him to follow up on the actions he has taken and changes that he will make within his company. TMC NEWS will take him up on that offer.
Before the two guards were placed in the building at Elyria High School the Superintendent said he reviewed the employee’s applications to Whittguard and even though Mr. Whitt had shown verification of the guards certifications and back ground checks, the school contacted the state of Ohio to double check and to get a better understanding of what the certifications meant. “It’s not that we didn’t trust Mr. Whitt, it’s just that we wanted to double check and to also get a better understanding of what all the numbers meant.”
When asked what the future holds for the relationship between the Elyria City Schools and Whittguard Security Mr. Rigda said that they will review the contract but to say now that things will change is premature. “I will say that although we are happy with the guards that are working within our building, it would concern me if the company (Whittguard) did not have the same stringent requirements for their employees company wide, so that is something that we will look at and discuss with Mr. Whitt.”