Safety & Security
Safety is our top priority in the Westlake City Schools. We work tirelessly to ensure the physical, emotional and social safety of our students and staff. We believe safety is a community effort and responsibility, and we thank you for your partnership.
- Safety Committee
- Safety Drills
- School Entrances
- Security Cameras
- School Climate
- School Counselors
- School Psychologists
- Classroom Security
Our students and staff receive specific, ongoing security training that is coordinated with the Westlake Police Department. Westlake Schools use ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training to prepare students and staff to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event.
Emergency drills (fire, tornado, lockdown) are conducted on a regular basis, and staff are trained in Stop the Bleed to assist in a life-threatening emergency before professional help arrives.
Security cameras offer mostly forensic evidence, but they can also be a deterrent. To protect the integrity of our systems, we reserve some of our safety processes for internal use only, including the location of security cameras. Those cameras are monitored by office staff and building administrators, as well as our School Resource Officers.
School bus camera systems are helpful in instances of bullying or unsafe behavior. The driver's main responsibility on the bus is to safely transport the students to and from school. Security cameras can offer an additional set of eyes without requiring additional staff onboard.
The Westlake City Schools are committed to providing a safe, positive, productive and nurturing educational environment for all of its students. We encourage the promotion of positive interpersonal relations between members of the school community.
Harassment, intimidation or bullying toward a student, whether by other students, staff or others, will not be tolerated. This includes aggressive behavior, physical, verbal and psychological abuse, and violence within a dating relationship. Any gestures, comments, threats or actions that cause or threaten to cause bodily harm or personal degradation will not be tolerated.
Westlake participates in the Youth Truth Student Survey, a national school experience survey that provides districts information on trends affecting students in grades 3-12 (student engagement, student culture, academic rigor, peer and teacher relationships). The data helps educators accelerate improvements in schools and classrooms.
Our buildings promote Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Our school PBIS systems are based on virtues including respect, responsibility, integrity and empathy. These values are reinforced with assemblies and tangible student incentives.
School counselors are certified/licensed educators who improve student success for all students by implementing a comprehensive school counseling program. School counselors help students:
- Apply academic achievement strategies
- Manage emotions and apply interpersonal skills
- Plan for postsecondary options (higher education, military, workforce)
School counselors provide:
- Individual academic achievement planning and goal setting
- Classroom lessons based on student success standards
- Short-term counseling to students
- Referrals for long-term support
- Collaboration with families/teachers/administrators/community for student success
- Advocacy for students at individual education plan meetings and other student-focused meetings
- Data analysis to identify student issues, needs and challenges
All youth can face problems from time to time related to learning, social relationships, decision-making or managing emotions. School psychologists help students, families, educators and members of the community understand and resolve both long-term, chronic problems and short-term issues that students may face.
School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. They have expertise in mental health, learning and behavior to help children succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally.
School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators and other professionals to create safe, healthy and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school and the community.
The Westlake City Schools invested in classroom security through state safety grants awarded through the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
- Bearacade: These mechanical barriers are designed to provide a mechanical barrier for classrooms to prevent an outside intruder. They also are designed to increase critical time for law enforcement to respond to building emergencies.
- Stop the Bleed: Staff are trained in Stop the Bleed to make a difference in a life-threatening emergency. Stop the Bleed kits are being purchased for classrooms to provide access to supplies and critical tools.
- Safety Buckets: The Westshore Lions Club collected items for Safety Buckets to be placed in each classroom. Buckets include trash bags, toilet paper, paper towels, fleece blankets, bottled water and Stop the Bleed kits.
Statistics show schools are among the safest places on a day-to-day basis due to the strong commitment of educators, parents and our community to our students. We strive to be proactive rather than reactive.
This guide outlines some of the key elements of the Westlake City Schools' state of preparedness. We hope it will answer any questions you have concerning our actions and intentions in the event an emergency occurs.
In the event of an emergency, please be assured that our school system has an emergency management plan in place, and that the school district and emergency staff will respond accordingly. We need your support and ask that you rely on communications from the school system.
To be consistent across Westlake City Schools, we developed the following list of terms to use in emergency situations.
- Lockdown: There is an internal security issue. Occupants are kept in classrooms or other secure areas. There is no movement within the building. Students will not be released during a lockdown.
- Lockout: There is an external security issue. Lockouts are used to rapidly increase the level of security in a building. Any students outside will be brought into the building, and the exterior doors and main interior doors are locked to prevent someone from gaining access to staff and students.
- Evacuation: When it is determined that it is safer to be outside the building rather than inside, occupants will be moved to another location. Staff at each building are educated and trained on the location to evacuate students to in the event of an emergency.
- Shelter-In-Place: When there is an emergency outside of the building and there is not adequate time to evacuate a building, occupants will be moved to designated areas within their building. Shelter-in-place can be used for tornados, fires, earthquakes, etc. Students will not be released during shelter-in-place.
- Reunification Site: A predetermined area where students and employees are transported due to unsafe conditions at a school site.
- Student Release Area: A location where families may pick up their children. This could be at the school location or a reunification site, depending on the situation.
- Ensure emergency contact information in Registration Gateway is accurate and current, including who is authorized to pick up your child.
- Explain to your child that cell phones should not be used during an emergency unless directed by a teacher, administrator or emergency personnel.
- Sound, vibration or conversation could place your child in danger, and they need to pay attention to instructions from trained personnel.
- Refer to our communication systems for updates. We will use multiple channels to provide you with accurate and timely information.
- If necessary, local news outlets will be contacted and asked to help broadcast important information.
- Trust that emergency personnel and the school system are doing everything necessary to protect your child, and we will communicate with you when we can.
- The first and official way to contact you in an emergency is using SchoolMessenger, our parent notification system.
- DO NOT call the school or district office. It is very important that you understand that in a crisis situation, school phones are needed to manage the situation and lines must remain open. Calling could place students and employees at risk in an intruder situation - if they do not have time to turn down the ringer, your call could potentially give away their location.
- DO NOT rush to the school. You will not be allowed on campus during an emergency. Emergency personnel responding to the situation need the area clear to do their job. After emergency responders determine that a safe student release is possible, arrangements will be made to reunite children with their families.
- You will be directed to the reunification site, and you will need photo identification.
- Students will only be released to a parent/guardian or other adults listed on the student's emergency information form, which you completed at the start of the school year.
- Please be aware that reunification can be time-consuming, and we appreciate your patience.
- It is important to remain calm as children are greatly influenced by their family's sense of well-being. Anything families can do to reassure children of their safety will be helpful. At the same time, families need to be compassionate listeners when their children speak about the crisis. Please seek help from your child's school, the school district or the community if you/your child have concerns.
When an emergency occurs at our schools, oftentimes the messages that are first circulated come from non-official sources (students text parents, parents post on social media, posts are shared, etc.). So why does it take longer for the school district to send out an official message? Here's what is going on at the district office during an emergency:
- Gathering Facts: When an emergency occurs, the school(s) and district strive to communicate factual information to the public as quickly as possible. No two situations are like and it takes time to verify details. This can involve talking to multiple parties (police, fire, families directly involved with the emergency) and this information-gathering phase takes time. Please know we're working hard to provide an accurate account of the situation.
- Limits on Information Sharing: Depending on the situation, there are times we are limited on the details we can share (privacy laws, active law enforcement investigation). It is not our intent to seem vague when we say we are unable to share specifics. Please know that we strive for proactive communication while balancing the privacy of individuals.
- Getting the Message Out: Once we have the message ready to send, we activate various communication channels (email, text messaging, phone call, website, social media posts).
We thank you for doing your part to keep the communication lines open, and for sharing accurate and factual messages with those around you.
- What is the district's position on firearms in schools?
- Why can't you share your entire safety plan?
- What is your visitor policy?
- How do you monitor who comes into the building?
- Where are cameras located? Who monitors them?
- What type of safety training is provided to staff?
Just as other public locations don't publish their entire safety plan, we reserve some of our emergency processes for internal use only. This protects the integrity of our system and ensures someone cannot make their plans based on ours. Some of our equipment, protocols, etc. have components that are kept confidential as they are critical to our overall safety/security practices.
The Board of Education welcomes and encourages visits to school by parents, other adult residents of the community and interested educators. But in order for the educational program to continue undisturbed when visitors are present and to prevent the intrusion of disruptive persons into the schools, it is necessary to invoke visitor controls, which are outlined by Board Policy 9150.
All visitors are screened via security camera and intercom, and must state a reason for coming to a building. All visitors are to report to the main office.
During morning arrival and afternoon dismissal, building staff and administrators monitor entrances and exits. Security cameras monitored by office staff also are in use.
During the school day, all exterior doors are locked and admittance is via security camera and intercom through the building's main office.
Westlake Schools use ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training to prepare students and staff to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. Emergency drills (fire, tornado, lockdown) also are conducted on a regular basis. Staff also participate in Stop the Bleed training to help stop life-threatening bleeding injuries.
School staff are well educated on a variety of external supports available to students and their families. No matter the need, our staff can help connect families with valuable resources to support them through a variety of challenges. The following are just some of your community resources:
- Cuyahoga County Board of Health
- Emergency Preparedness (from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health)
- Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County
- Positive Education Program (PEP)
- Frontline 24-Hour Mental Health Crisis, Information & Referral Hotline: 216.623.6888.
In the event of an emergency, the Westlake City Schools will use a variety of channels to communicate information to our parents and community.
- Mobile app alerts and email notifications. Get connected and stay in touch with Westlake CSD by downloading our free mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store (look for our green W). Download on your mobile device and select YES to receive push notifications with the latest news and updates from the district.
- SchoolMessenger phone calls and text messages. The phone numbers you provide at the beginning of the school year through Registration Gateway are the numbers that will receive district communications.
- Announcements on the district website.
- Announcements on social media. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Need to report something suspicious? Text or call our anonymous SaferSchools Ohio tip line at
The Westlake City School District participates in SaferSchools Ohio, an anonymous tip line through the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The SaferOH tip line accepts calls and text message 24/7.
There are a lot of things you can do to help us.
Report issues of concern to our staff or via SaferSchools Ohio, an anonymous tip line through the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Call or text 844-SaferOH (844.723.3764).
Reassure your child of their safety in our schools. School is still one of the safest places for children. Remind them that we care about them and we are committed to keeping them safe.
Meet Our School Resource Officers
School Resource Officers from the Westlake Police Department are housed at Westlake High School, Lee Burneson Middle School, Dover Intermediate School and Westlake Elementary School. Officers walk school hallways, interacting with students and staff to create a personal connection with local law enforcement. You can read the Memorandum of Understanding between Westlake Schools and the City of Westlake that makes this partnerships possible.
Officer Scott Fortkamp
- Westlake Police Officer 22 years
- School Resource Officer 18 years at Westlake High School
- Certified State of Ohio and National SRO training
- Crisis Intervention Team
- Active Shooter instructor
- Defensive Tactics instructor
- Less Lethal Weapons instructor
- Bomb Threat Response training
- Prescription drug abuse and diversion training
- Autism awareness training
- Alcohol and drug awareness training
- Anger Management in Schools training
- Safer Schools training
Officer Keenan Cook
- Westlake Police Officer 13 years (23 years total law enforcement)
- School Resource Officer/Drug Abuse Prevention Officer
- D.A.R.E. Officer to 3rd, 5th & 7th grades (drug prevention, bullying, peer pressure, stress, over-the-counter/prescription drug abuse)
Officer Pat Foye
- School Resource Officer/Drug Abuse Prevention Officer at Lee Burneson Middle School
- Lakewood Police Department - 25 years, with assignments as Detective, Investigator and Narcotics Detective
- U.S. Army (Reserve) Retired
- WEB SWAT
- WEB negotiator
Officer Ted Morley
- School Resource Officer/Drug Abuse Prevention Officer at Dover Intermediate School
- Lakewood Police Department 26 years
- Westshore Enforcement Bureau (WEB) SWAT
- U.S. Marshals Service Task Force
- Community officer
- Firearms and Tactics trainer
Officer Kendra Yurgionas
- School Resource Officer/Drug Abuse Prevention Officer
- Expertise in social media and cybercrime
- Former member of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
Officer Joe Rutkowski
- School Resource Officer/Westlake Elementary School
- Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department 7 years
- Cleveland Police Department 18 years
- Westlake Police Department 15 years
Officer Tim Gaertner
- School Resource Officer/Westlake Elementary School
- Cleveland Police Department 32 years
- Officer in Charge of the Cleveland Division of Police S.W.A.T. Unit
- Officer in Charge of the Cleveland Division of Police Fugitive Unit
- Task Force Officer with the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force through the U.S. Marshals Service