January 25, 2023

New GHAPS Safety and Security Director Position Filled

School safety remains an “important” or “very important” issue for 92% of Michigan parents, according to a December 2022 report from the Michigan Parents’ Council. In line with these concerns, GHAPS continues to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to school safety and security. This year, the district created a new Safety and Security Director position and recently announced that Trent Carithers has been selected for the job.

“School safety and security are always a priority,” shares GHAPS Superintendent Scott Grimes. “Mr. Carithers is uniquely skilled to elevate our district’s safety and security programs. He will coordinate school emergency response systems, provide enhanced training to staff and students, and supervise general building conditions.”

Carithers, who brings more than 20 years of experience as a Secret Service agent, saw the job as a perfect way to spend his retirement. “As a parent, I’ve always been concerned about kids having a safe learning environment – and making sure the community’s students and staff are protected feels like a worthy goal,” he shares. A few days into the job, he’s met building principals and is touring buildings, taking notes and settling in. “Everyone has been super welcoming, supportive and way ahead of the game. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, but there’s a solid plan in place here and I was surprised by how thorough it is. A lot has gone into security here, there’s a solid base to start from.”

Physical security like cameras, locks and key-card scanners are important parts of security initiatives but represent only a fraction of district initiatives. “When everyone knows what to do, and we are all on the same page and thinking the right way about security, people become your biggest asset,” shares Carithers. “I was immediately impressed by how aware everyone is here, how they review their surroundings and work with what they have to mitigate potential threats.” As an example, he tells of a GHAPS building principal who had identified a line-of-sight issue during a drill. “He came back to the school and tinted the windows himself, immediately solving a vulnerability he’d noticed.”

Carithers credits his background with developing skillsets that will be invaluable in protecting the GHAPS community. “Conducting thorough building assessments and safety audits, mitigating line-of-sight issues, detailing entrance and exit plans, I will be doing the same things here in our schools.” Acknowledging that he thinks a little differently, he says “I’m not just looking at safety features. I see the landscape, how it works and interacts, and find proactive ways to make it even safer. 

Several GHAPS initiatives to address safety needs are outlined in the district’s May bond proposal, including improved security at building entrances and restroom upgrades. Aging infrastructure at the middle school is also on the ballot, as the district aims to replace the deteriorating 70-year-old building. “The middle school has added challenges due to its age,” he says, but Carithers is ready to hit the ground running. 

“We will be doing critical incident mapping so first responders have updated, detailed maps of every building’s infrastructure along with the location of every AED, door and window. Everything is documented. We’ll be doing some upgrades in physical security, key-card scanners, those sorts of things, and ongoing building assessments will help us identify and address other concerns.” 

Grand Haven Area Public Schools is a district of distinction for students in preschool through 12th grade. With a goal of providing exceptional educational experiences, GHAPS is committed to success for all students and strives to provide exemplary programs and opportunities to meet their diverse needs.