By Judy Reed
Cedar Springs Public Schools went into lockdown Monday morning, October 12, with a code yellow, after a suspicious man entered two different schools and asked if he could “have a quiet place to read.”
According to Cedar Springs School Superintendent Laura VanDuyn, the man first entered Cedar Trails Elementary and then went to the high school. Both school administrators and security spoke with the man, and told him he could not have a place to read. He became disagreeable with one of the administrators, saying something to the effect “that’s what’s wrong with schools today.” He was then asked to leave and did so.
School officials called the Kent County Sheriff Department, and they found him in his car in the McDonald’s parking lot reading a book.
The man reportedly told the officer that he had dropped his wife off at a local business, and that he wanted a place to read until her meeting was done. The police checked out his story, and found that business in town knows the man, and he had dropped his wife off. The KCSD then verified for the school that the couple had left Cedar Springs.
According to Sgt. Jason Kelley, with the KCSD Cedar Springs unit, the man thought he could use the school library to read. “He was told he could not since the kids would be occupying the library. He made a statement about paying for the school with tax dollars but did not cause a scene and left without incident.”
According to VanDuyn, two other situations occurred during the same time period that gave administrators concern. One was a ladder found propped up by Beach Elementary. It was investigated by the KCSD officer, and found to be unrelated. Van Duyn said that at about the same time the ladder was noticed at Beach, a man with a backpack and shorts was seen entering the Cedar Trails building. The investigation revealed that is was a staff member.
“A code yellow was in effect until we were assured there were no safety issues and that all students were safe in their respective buildings,” said VanDuyn. “As a general precaution, elementary principals will provide for a heightened awareness at recess.
“I want to thank our administrators, staff and the KCSD as well as MSP for their prompt response to this matter,” commented VanDuyn. “All parties did a fantastic job of implementing safety precautions and communications with the appropriate contacts. As always, the safety and security of our students and staff is paramount to everyone at Cedar Springs Public Schools. I commend everyone who assisted.”
Sgt. Kelley said no crimes were committed and no further follow-up would be necessary at this time.