KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — When students walk into East Kentwood High School on Wednesday, they will be scanned for weapons.
The heightened security comes after a student reported seeing graffiti in the high school bathroom that threatened a shooting at the school on Wednesday.
Kentwood Public Schools said a student reported the graffiti to the school Tuesday afternoon and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office was immediately contacted.
“We are thankful for the student that reported this concern to a trusted adult at EKHS,” Kentwood Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Polston said in a statement. “The student’s actions demonstrate how important strong, authentic relationships are at Kentwood Public Schools.”
Kent County Sgt. Eric Brunner said deputies are taking the matter seriously.
“At this time, there’s nothing else that would lead us to believe it’s anything else other than graffiti posted on a wall,” Brunner said. “But obviously out of an abundance of caution and reassurance to the community, we want to investigate it and take it seriously.”
School leaders say they will be beefing up security around the building tomorrow. There will be weapons detectors at each entrance to the school, as well as extra security with Kent County Sheriff’s deputies on hand. Officials also said there will be additional measure in place that “are not readily visible.”
The district has been using weapons detectors at large school events throughout the year. They were also used in May during a graduation ceremony for East Kentwood High School. That security measure was taken in response to a shooting just days before outside the graduation for Crossroads Alternative High School that left two people hurt.
“I think there’s just raised awareness just with having that shooting occurring after graduation on school grounds brings heightened sensitivity and awareness to that community that can be a pretty traumatic and difficult thing,” Brunner said.
According to the sheriff’s office, several weeks ago there was different graffiti found on a bathroom wall referencing a bomb.
“As a former school resource officer myself working within a district in Kent County, there are ongoing low-level things that are brought up of students saying things in passing,” Brunner said. “And it’s looked into by school staff and then it’s determined, ‘Oh that was just a joke.’ When we have young teenagers sometimes making jokes or thinking things are funny and their rational behind things, they don’t realize the effect it can have on other people.”
Earlier this month, a student lit off fireworks in the bathroom at the school’s freshman center, leading to a 14-year-old being charged in juvenile court, Brunner said.
Parents and guardians are asked to talk with students about how serious threatening behavior is and that “words and actions matter.”
“We are continuing to investigate this matter in partnership with the KCSO. We have high expectations for student behavior at our school, and this type of behavior does not align with what we promote to ensure safety for our students and staff,” East Kentwood High School Principal Omar Bakri wrote in a letter sent out to students and families.
Anyone with information should call the sheriff’s office at 616.632.3100.