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Grand Rapids Public Schools speak with parents concerning school safety

The meeting comes after a mid-January incident involving a Burton Middle School student with a gun on campus.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A discussion involving parents, teachers and staff at Burton Middle School on Thursday, focused on school safety.

"My question is, what options are being considered to make our building a safer place," asked a Burton Heights Middle School teacher.

The meeting coming after a Burton Middle School student brought a loaded gun to the middle school in mid-January.

"We do utilize other forms of physical security such as random and unannounced weapons sweeps, each one of our security officers here have been issued and carry a handheld metal wand," said GRPS Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Safety Larry Johnson.

Leon Hendrix, Executive Director of Communications of Grand Rapids Public Schools told 13 ON YOUR SIDE that parents came to them with ideas on changes that could be made on school grounds.

"Some wanted to see metal detectors put at our doors, others wanted to see a clear backpack policy," said Hendrix.

The January incident is just the latest at Burton Middle School. In late October of 2022, a student brought an unloaded handgun on school grounds, school security being tipped off by another student.

In that case, Hendrix said, he thinks their talks with students about school safety show they're doing something right.

"Our scholars are hearing the message that we're sending, that if you see something wrong, you got to say something," said Hendrix. "It really shows that our scholars are demonstrating that they have agency that they have a part to play when it comes to the safety of our schools."

Hendrix and the school district are continuing to encourage students to speak up it they see something wrong at school.

"We want our young people and our scholars to know that if they have a concern that they should feel confident and comfortable and coming to an adult and bringing these issues to light," said Hendrix. "We saw our scholars demonstrate that at both of these incidents here at Burton Middle School, and we will never know what was prevented because of their courage."

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