The Grand Rapids Public Schools have been facing a growing concern regarding school safety after four incidents where students brought guns into school buildings. As a response, parents and teachers have urged the school district to implement security measures and include mental health professionals in all buildings throughout the district.
During a public safety forum, parents and teachers raised more than 20 concerns and questions regarding the safety of their children in school. Some expressed their fear and dissatisfaction, with one parent stating that sending their kids to school makes them feel unsafe and uneasy.
A teacher at Grand Rapids Montessori, Mikaela Krul, also emphasized the need for basic safety measures to be implemented for all buildings and decried the delay in their implementation, citing the recent incident of guns being brought to school.
There have been four incidents of guns brought to school this year, the highest number in a school year. The most recent incident was at Stocking Elementary School, where a third-grader brought a loaded gun. The backpack ban was implemented the following day to prevent further incidents, but it received both support and criticism from parents and students alike.
The incidents have prompted calls for metal detectors, with some parents and community members advocating for their installation. Others have opposed it, stating that it could make schools feel like prisons.
The school district is now looking into investing around $1 million in security systems from state grants, and the school board is urging communities to be patient as they work on developing a comprehensive safety plan. GRPS Board of Education President Kimberly Williams acknowledged that addressing such complex and multifaceted issues takes time, and it won’t be perfect.
In March, more than a dozen parents called for a resolution declaring gun violence a public health crisis, similar to one that was passed in a nearby city. The Grand Rapids Public Schools also plan to ask district voters for $305 million in bonds to improve school facilities.