But an altercation. A fight. And a near panicked stampede of students at the Heights basketball game last Friday night has led Bryan Loretz, coordinator of safety and security for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, to step up security measures to ensure this type of incident doesn’t happen again. On Friday afternoon, the Cleveland Heights boys' basketball team will host Shaw High School.
“Every student coming from a visitor school must present their school’s ID in order to get in,” said Loretz at the CH-UH School Board meeting Tuesday night. “If they don’t have an ID from a visiting school, they don’t get in, period.”
Loretz also said Cleveland Heights students will be required to show their school IDs unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, and students from other school districts — other than the visiting school students — will not be allowed to attend the game.
“What about 19-, 20- and 21- (year-olds),” said Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board member Ronald Register, asking about alumni.
They will have to present ID's, too, Loretz said.
“I mean we are using good judgment on this. If you look like you are 25 and you are an alumni, then we will probably let you in. But if you just graduated last year … because truthfully (on) Friday we had incidents that really had a lot of our alumni involved, but they were the young ones who just graduated in the last two years.”
Register asked him to clarify.
“But they can come to the game, right?”
“Not any more,” Loretz said. “We will make that judgment call.”
The conversation continued.
“So what is the cut off?” Register asked. “So if someone is 19-years-old who just graduated, they won’t be allowed in the Heights game?”
“The cutoff is good judgment,” answered Loretz. “My staff pretty much knows who the troublemakers are. So it will be pretty much my call.”
At last Friday night’s game against John Adams, an altercation among Cleveland Heights students and other students from unknown schools erupted in the gym’s lobby at halftime.
“Immediately I knew something would probably occur after the game,” said Loretz. “So I directed my staff and police to direct everyone from the visitor side out to the Cedar Road exit, and everyone from the home side out the lobby exit.”
Loretz said a small fight also occurred on Cedar Road, but it was quickly handled by police and security.
“What caused the alarm was that there was a yell in the crowd that a shot had been fired,” said Loretz. “I was outside. There (were) eight officers outside and my security staff, but we heard nothing. But when you hear that and have a large crowd, it created a stampede of students (of about 100 to 200) coming back trying to get back in the building.”
But as students were trying to get back into the building, there were about 400 to 500 spectators leaving the building.
“It was my order at that time not to let anyone in (the building) at that point because of the danger of them coming back to the lobby. You would have had a stampede and it would have been disastrous,” said Loretz.
Loretz said Cleveland Heights Police arrested a junior from Cleveland Heights who was charged with aggravated rioting. A 19-year-old from an unknown school district also was arrested and charged with regular rioting.
Loretz said he doesn’t anticipate problems at the game on Friday against Shaw. Outside of checking for IDs, security measures will remain the same.
CH-UH School District Superintendent Douglas Heuer said rumors are flying around the city, but he did not elaborate. He said school administrators and teachers will work with the student body to use this incident as an educational opportunity to talk about appropriate conduct and sportsmanship.
In other action, the school board elected board member Karen Jones as its new board president and voted to appoint former president Eric Coble vice president. Jones was not present at the meeting because of a medical reason, said Coble. School Board member Nancy Peppler and Coble were sworn in. They ran unopposed and were re-elected in November.