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School board president advocates for more safety laws protecting students, staff | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

SPARTA, Mich. — A local school district is concerned about safety after an expelled student is repeatedly caught trespassing. Sparta Area Schools board president Andy Jensen thinks schools need more laws when it comes to protecting students and staff.

Inside Sparta High School, wiring is being updated to make sure state-of-the-art security systems are ready to go when school starts in August. School board president Andy Jensen says almost $700,000 has been spent on cameras, lockdown technology, door locks, and more. But in April, there was a string of scary moments no amount of security features could prepare for.

“We did everything we could do. The police did everything they could do, and he was let go, only to come back and do it again. So, what do we do? That’s for them to figure out but we need to at least start talking about it,” said Jensen.

A teenage student was not allowed inside the halls of Sparta High School after making threats toward students and staff. He was found trespassing on school property arrested, and released. The week after that, he was found outside school again. The third time, that student actually made it inside the entryway of the high school unarmed.

“When he came into the building, he immediately took his coat and threw it on the ground like he was ready to fight basically is what it was. Everybody was scared, and our community rightfully so, was upset at the fact that somebody got in our school,” said Jensen.

In April, Jensen sent a to lawmakers in Lansing asking for stricter penalties to cut down on repeat offenses. Jensen said, “I have not received response back from anybody in Lansing. Not one person.”

Saftey Letter by WXMI on Scribd

Jensen has heard back from many other Kent County school boards who echo his call for more laws to protect students and staff. Jensen continued, “We were told that there weren’t enough beds to house him. Well now that he had a felony of resisting arrest they found a bed, but they should have done it the first time.”

We reached out to multiple lawmakers about that letter and heard back from Michigan State Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R) District 90. He said, “As a father to school-age kids, this is an important issue to me. I support these efforts to improve our school safety and improve mental health services to our kids. If there is additional legislation needed to address the situation at Sparta Schools specifically, I am happy to meet with the administration to discuss solutions.”

Posthumus added that after the Oxford High School tragedy in 2021, bi-partisan legislation was introduced last term and this term. Specifically, HB4088 [legislature.mi.gov], 4089 [legislature.mi.gov], 4090 [legislature.mi.gov], 4091 [legislature.mi.gov], 4092 [legislature.mi.gov], 4093 [legislature.mi.gov], 4094 [legislature.mi.gov], 4095 [legislature.mi.gov], 4096 [legislature.mi.gov], 4097 [legislature.mi.gov], 4098 [legislature.mi.gov], 4099 [legislature.mi.gov], 4100 [legislature.mi.gov], are still in the House Education Committee awaiting further action.

The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office charged the juvenile with all it could under current law. Prosecutor Chris Becker says, ” I think there are a number of people from all across the country who would be interested in discussing how school safety and response to juvenile crime can be improved. I agree, and hope to be a part of any discussions that take place.”

Jensen said he will continue to send his letter to lawmakers, “We have in my opinion the best staff in Michigan, they deserve safe place to have education and our students our children deserve a safe place to be educated,” said Jensen.

Becker says the juvenile is still waiting for trial on his current charges.

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