More than 100 open crossing guard spots in Cleveland as school year begins

Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:33 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The safety of many Cleveland students is at risk as the city continues to struggle to hire enough crossing guards.

Some children are left crossing busy city streets on their way to school all alone.

19 Investigates looked into how bad the problem is this year.

We spotted several school crossing guards out at Nathan Hale School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive recently, working hard to keep children safe.

Halicia Yarborough is an 8th grade teacher there.

“I love teaching. It’s not work for me,” she said.

Her love for her students includes worrying about their safety.

She knows not all Cleveland Metropolitan Schools have enough school crossing guards.

“I noticed a shortage, and it’s dangerous. Like babies are just running across the street. Sometimes you’re blindsided, you can’t see. Possible accident. So we definitely need more crossing guards,” she said.

19 Investigates has been tracking this chronic problem for years.

According to city records, this school year the city of Cleveland is down 130 school crossing guards.

That’s more than one third of their posted crossing guard positions.

And the problem is worse than last year, when the city had 111 vacant posts.

Five years ago in 2018, there were 44 unfilled school crossing guard positions across the city.

19 Investigates also found some crossing guards doing double duty this year.

City records show 21 of them are assigned to two posts.

The city lost 31 school crossing guards in 2023 and 14 applicants are being processed right now.

The city of Cleveland is responsible for hiring school crossing guards through Cleveland Police.

They’re recommended by city councilmembers in their ward for the position.

We reached out to the city of Cleveland and Cleveland Police for a comment on the issue and we did not hear back.

This isn’t just a problem in Cleveland, other cities across northeast Ohio and the nation have reported shortages too.

In Cleveland, Yarborough has an idea for a possible solution, even if it’s temporary.

“Maybe for now we can start a parent group and switch out parents. To come and stand and help those babies come into school in the morning,” she said.

19 Investigates also reached out to Cleveland Metropolitan School District for this story and we did not hear back.

If you’re interested in applying to be a school crossing guard, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED, a criminal background check and a drug test.

Crossing guards earning $20.50 a day and are eligible for health care through the city.

If you’re interested, call Cleveland Police at 216-623-5577.