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School district cancels clear backpack policy after outcry

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – Alachua County Public Schools has sent out a notification that the requirement for clear backpacks, announced yesterday, has been rescinded. The overnight policy reversal follows public outcry exemplified by a petition started by an Alachua County ninth-grader that attracted nearly 2,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

The petition says that the requirement is “expensive and not environmentally friendly” but also “doesn’t actually help what they are ‘trying’ to help.” The petition points out that weapons can be hidden in textbooks, lunchboxes, folders, and more, and asks “Speaking of lunchboxes, does that have to be clear as well? What about sports bags? Musical instruments? Feminine products?”

Facebook groups that discuss educational issues in Alachua County tend to fall into opposing camps in many issues, but the majority of the comments in all the groups have opposed the now-reversed backpack policy. A few people support the policy to increase the safety of students, but most comments point out how limited any increase in security would be, given how easy it would be to hide weapons or contraband in clothing or even within another item in a clear backpack.

The notification from the school district says, “We will continue to work with [law enforcement representatives] and will gather more input from families, students, employees and other community partners as we consider strategies to promote the safety of everyone on our campuses.”

“Families have shared very strong concerns with me and Board members about the use of clear backpacks,” said Superintendent Shane Andrew. “I’ve spoken with Board members individually, with Chief Scott at GPD (Gainesville Police Department) and with Sheriff Watson at the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), and they agree we should spend more time discussing this and other safety proposals.”

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According to a release from the district, the original recommendation came out of meetings between district staff and representatives from GPD and ACSO about youth violence and school security. Andrew says those discussions will continue. “These are very complicated issues, and there are no easy solutions,” said Andrew. “We need to work collaboratively to make sure our students and all citizens are safe in our schools and in the community.”

  • Lord have mercy! This is precisely why we have kids that do whatever they please. I don’t care if it hurts their feelings. I’ve seen too much whining on Facebook about the issue mostly parents…. Too expensive not environmentally friendly? Well I’m pretty sure that at most 36 dollars is a lot less than parents will pay for other backpacks, as for environmentaly friendly I’m pretty sure you are not throwing them in the ocean. SMH, just another excuse and the school board is too scared to stick to what they have said… so the school board is enabling bratty behavior. Let’s not forget there were a few weapons on campuses this last year. Get over it people.

  • Not sure what they were thinking with this policy. Can you imagine the bullying seeing what people had in their backpack? It’s one thing to go to a football game, another to have a clear purse/backpack/satchel so all can see what’s in it. Ugh. Focus on teaching our kids the basics 🙂

    • How can you focus on teaching when teaching is continuously being interrupted with ignorance of kids that don’t want to be there. Hindering the education of those that want to do something with their lives.

      • That’s why there should be advanced classes, honors classes, etc. And LD/ED. If you don’t want to be in the class with all the borderline retarded and emotionally disturbed people, you’d better shape up and start performing.

  • LMAO! Government was going to encroach on a student’s privacy for school safety?!? Somebody’s feelings got hurt😢

    Just another example of the hypocrisy running rampant in society…or is it a bunch of kids running society.

    • Protocols: The practice of advocacy produces men cold, cruel, persistent, unprincipled, who in all cases take up an impersonal purely legal standpoint

  • You could just wrap your gat in a towel and put it in your see through backpack, or your lunchbox, or carve out a book, or tuck it in your pants. Seems like a feel good measure to me. How many people have been caught with a gat, cause someone saw it in their see through backpack?

  • (if you were trying to murder that guy, please don’t murder that guy)

  • peta: More than 110 million mice and rats are killed in U.S. laboratories every year. They are abused in everything from toxicology tests (in which they are slowly poisoned to death) to painful burn experiments to psychological experiments that induce terror, anxiety, depression, and helplessness.

  • What method does Alachua County Elections Office use to validate a qualified OmniBallot at-home ballot printer?

  • When I went to school:

    1. In elementary school, grade 1 to 6, the books were in
    The classroom in the bottom of our desks. No one
    Had a backpack then. The small kids had a lunch box
    With a thermos…some kids had lunch in a paper bag,
    Or you ate at the school cafeteria. No one had a backpack.

    2. In junior high, grade 7 to 9, we kept our books in our locker
    And would get what we needed by going to our lockers
    Between classes…at this grade, paper bag lunch or
    School cafeteria…we just brought a notebook to class
    And our textbook if necessary. No one had a backpack.

    3. In high school, grade 10 to 12, same as middle school with the locker
    And bring your notebook or textbook to class…We could leave
    School campus for lunch then. No one had a backpack.

    4. It wasn’t until college that I got an book bag…I
    Put what books I needed to study at the library
    Or notebook for my classes. We did not have cell
    Phones or laptops back then, they weren’t invented
    Yet.

    So, we did fine without backpacks. The system
    Worked fine. Chalkboards & erasers…we had a
    Lower carbon footprint too…all these electronics
    Are using up too much electricity and making a higher
    Carbon footprint. Let’s go back to the old fashioned
    Way of learning. No phones, no laptops. Just teachers,
    Chalkboards, erasers, books, & notebooks.

      • Funny. Thanks for the laugh! 😃

        what are these kids going to do when the internet goes down or electricity
        Is down? What are these kids carrying in these backpacks? When you go to the airport, they X-ray
        All your baggage…are the kids going through metal detectors & their backpacks x-rayed? Should they be
        Going through security like at the airport & the TSA?
        The clear bag idea is a good idea. Let’s keep schools
        Safe from weapons & drugs.

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