Dear Grand Rapids Public Schools Parent/Guardian(s):
As you know, a tragic incident occurred at a high school in Broward County, Florida yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the students, parents, staff, and the entire Broward County community.
Any time there is a tragic incident like this, it is good to reflect on all the training, technology, policies, procedures, and facility-related measures that our district has in place to ensure safe and secure school environments.
We at GRPS take great pride in being a national leader on school safety and security. Our own chief of staff and executive director of public safety and school security, Mr. Larry Johnson, is the chair of the board of directors for the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers.
In 2008, Mr. Johnson helped secure a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to implement a comprehensive training on critical incidents and crisis management. The train the trainer model led GRPS to host a series of trainings for staff from public and private districts throughout the region. This grant also led to an assessment of egress points at our schools, complete with installation of new entryway identifications.
In addition, GRPS conducts multiple school safety drills throughout the year. We continually review our safety practices as well as lock-down/incident procedures. We also ensure our professional staff members are very well trained, with multiple school safety trainings held throughout the year.
Lastly, thanks to the voter-approved bond, GRPS is in the process of implementing more than $10 million in facility and security improvements including renovations to main offices/entryways, security cameras, and other security technology.
Student and staff safety is our top priority. We will continue to be proactive to ensure our buildings remain safe and secure.
Teresa Weatherall Neal, M.Ed.
Superintendent of Schools