2 Michigan school districts ban backpacks amid safety concerns, one cites fourth weapon confiscated from student – KESQ

By Amy Simonson and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Two Michigan school districts have banned students from bringing backpacks on campus, with one of the districts citing several recent incidents of students bringing weapons to school.

Grand Rapids Public Schools announced Wednesday that it will ban backpacks after a loaded gun was discovered in a third-grader’s bag, the fourth seizure of a firearm from a student this academic year, according to a statement from District

Weapons were found in backpacks in three of the four incidents, according to the statement.

“This is not a decision we have made lightly and we know that it represents a significant inconvenience for our families. I am beyond frustrated that a decision like this is necessary, but we must put safety first and that is what this decision is about,” said Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Leadriane Roby. “This is just one step in an ongoing conversation about how we can best protect our children in our rapidly changing world.”

The ban will be in effect “until further notice,” the statement said.

The new policy in Grand Rapids came just days after another Michigan school district, Flint Community Schools, banned backpacks effective May 1.

“We have reached a point where we must make difficult decisions” to ensure school safety, Flint school officials said in a statement announcing the backpack prohibition.

The decisions made in the two Michigan districts come at a time when schools across the US. struggling with how to prevent and prepare for mass shootings on campuses, including conducting mass shooter drills and install metal detectors.

According to a CNN tally, there were at least 16 shootings at K-12 schools in the US in which at least one person was injured from the beginning of the year through March 27. It was then that six people, including three children, were killed in a shootout in the Covenant School in Nashville. In January, a teacher at an elementary school in Newport News, Virginia, was shot by a 6 year old student who brought a gun to school in his backpack, police said.

“Across the country, we have seen an increase in threatening behavior and contraband, including weapons, being brought into schools at all levels,” Flint school officials said in their announcement.

“By banning backpacks entirely and adding a heightened security presence throughout the district, we can better control what is brought into our buildings,” Flint’s statement said.

The ban was approved by the Flint Board of Education and district administrators and is supported by the Flint Police Department, according to the news release.

“This is a difficult decision, but one that will immediately benefit our district and the safety of those we serve,” the statement said.

The CNN Wire
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CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report.

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