GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) — Grand Rapids Public Schools will no longer allow scholars to bring backpacks into school following the fourth confiscation of a handgun from a student this academic year.
District leaders made this difficult decision Wednesday after a loaded handgun was discovered in the backpack of a third-grade student.
The latest confiscations involved elementary school students. In three of the four incidents, the weapons were located in backpacks.
“This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we know this poses a significant inconvenience for our families. I am more than frustrated that a decision like this is necessary, but we must put safety first and that’s what this decision is about,” Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Leadriane Roby, Ph.D. said. “This is just one step in an ongoing conversation about how we can best protect our children in our rapidly-changing world.”
This policy will remain in effect until further notice. The district is actively engaged in the work of enhancing security protocol and rules will be modified as appropriate.
Anyone with questions or concerns about this policy is urged to email firstname.lastname@example.org and your questions will be addressed by the appropriate school staff.
GRPS AND GRAND RAPIDS CITY LEADERS HOLD NEWS CONFERENCE ON MAY 10, 2023.
We want to address some of our school and community safety considerations following the recent gun incidents.
1.) Additional Cameras
We are currently looking at upgrading cameras in all of our buildings. Camera evaluations have been ongoing. Several locations have been submitted to finance for approval. We’re taking camera contracts in small batches so contractors can manage and deliver more efficiently.
All high schools and middle schools have cameras.
We’re strategically investing in installing additional cameras throughout the district.
2.) Metal Detectors
The district currently has 15 sets of metal detectors. We are evaluating other options as we are considering expanding their use in our buildings. We are currently sending information to finance to get approval for purchasing devices to pilot.
We are borrowing detectors from a neighboring district so we can get some immediate feedback on newer technology offerings.
3.) Clear backpacks
A number of our scholars and families have asked about the feasibility of utilizing clear backpacks.
We are actively researching the use of clear backpacks in the K-12 environment including obtaining samples of what they may look like if we are able to offer them to our families.
We have decided not to change course and allow clear backpacks at this time but are considering it for the future.
4.) Urban League / Cure Violence
We’ve had some conversations with the Urban League to determine what role Cure Violence can play in partnering with GRPS. We have worked with them in the past and we are evaluating our partnership going forward. We’re working to learn how best to work with them in interrupting violent activity in the community that may impact our schools.
5.) Additional Training
We have a comprehensive training package currently rolling out. We are working on ways to determine the best practice for timing this training and targeting the appropriate audience.
We will be incorporating the incidents that occurred involving guns in our schools this year as part of our training ahead of the upcoming school year. This will reinforce and help us to develop additional training in the upcoming year.
We are looking at calendars to establish other opportunities for community / parent forums though finding time for another event before the end of the school year may not be possible. We will be looking at available dates in June and share more once the timing is worked out.