GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Burton Elementary and Middle School now has a metal detector.
The metal detector was put in place Thursday as the result of a Feb. 2 public safety meeting, a spokesperson for Grand Rapids Public Schools told News 8.
“We will keep a metal detector unit at the entrance to our building for at least the remainder of the school year. We will continue to evaluate how to best utilize it as the school year progresses,” a letter to Burton school families says.
The meeting was held after two guns were found this school year, one in January and one in October. A loaded gun was found in the backpack of a student in January, after a parent contacted the school. In October, a school resource officer confiscated an unloaded gun, a magazine and ammunition from a student.
Metal detectors were one of the possible security measures parents and school officials discussed during the Feb. 2 meeting.
“My request is to put metal detectors at the entrance,” one parent said during the meeting. “Because this school already has red flags … if it’s not done, it’s going to be a mass shooting and we don’t want that.”
Security personal that already work at the school will oversee its use. School administration said it’s not a permanent fixture and how often it will be used has yet to be determined.
“I think right now we’re still in the planning stages, we’re still looking to see what makes the most sense and what makes sense for all different age levels since we are an elementary and middle school,” said Amarena Nelson, the principal at Burton Elementary.
Nelson said going through a metal detector may be a change for students but she believes the first day of utilizing one went smoothly.
“Our scholars are super adaptive and resilient, so they were able to go through it very quickly today with very little impact on their school day, and when they asked questions about it we just gave them the feedback we’re trying to make sure that everyone is safe when they come to school,” Nelson said.
In a statement, GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby and Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Safety Larry Johnson said the metal detector will remain for at least the rest of the school year.
“We are constantly evaluating our safety procedures and listening to the feedback from the scholars and families we serve,” the statement says. “After considering all variables, our Public Safety team has decided to place a metal screening device at Burton. The device will remain on site for at least the remainder of the school year. We will evaluate how it is utilized as the year progresses. We appreciate the open dialogue we’ve had with our families and will continue to engage with our community in keeping our scholars safe.”
In a letter to Burton Elementary and Middle School families, the school encouraged students who have concerns about a weapon or violence to talk to an adult.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the frequency of the metal detector’s use. It is currently being used intermittently. We regret the error, which has been corrected.
News 8’s Demetrios Sanders contributed to this report.