Broward Schools to Require Clear Backpacks, Parents Outraged – ‘This is an Invasion of Privacy’
Broward County Public Schools has parents outraged after announcing a new rule change on Friday, requiring all student backpacks and lunchboxes to be transparent starting with the 2023-2024 school year. The policy will go into effect on August 21, restoring a school safety measure that was previously implemented and dropped in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. The rule will affect all Pre-K through 12th Grade students but will not apply to teachers, staff, volunteers, or visitors in the school district. The announcement followed just hours after police arrested a Taravella High School Student for making unfounded threats of a school shooting.
“Providing safe learning environments that are conducive to student learning is of the highest importance, not just for Broward County Public Schools but for school districts across the nation,” BCPS Interim Superintendent Earlean C. Smiley told parents in a statement. “This added layer of security is a game-changer. It will allow school security personnel and everyone on campus to quickly spot and report if someone has brought a prohibited item to school, and it will also help serve as a deterrent.”
As part of BCPS ongoing efforts to provide safe and secure learning environments, beginning in the 2023/24 school year, students will *ONLY* be allowed to use clear backpacks and bags while on school campuses.
— Broward Schools (@browardschools) May 5, 2023
A press release from the district specifies that lunch boxes, purses, duffel bags, fanny packs, and any other type of bag must also be transparent under the new rule. Students cannot bring mesh or colored backpacks, even if they are transparent.
The only exceptions permitted are:
- A small non-transparent pouch for personal hygiene items.
- Thermal food containers carried inside clear lunch boxes.
- School-approved sport-specific carrying case for athletic equipment.
- School-approved instrument-specific carrying case for band equipment.
The decision, announced just before the weekend, immediately sparked outrage among parents who say the new measure is just “theater” and will not protect students.
“This is like plexiglass for covid… Transparent backpacks are not necessary,” one commenter named Kristen wrote in response.
“This does not fix the problem, this is an invasion of privacy. Girls can’t bring personal items? Good thinking” – Blake (@BlakeL58)
“Let’s just show off all the good: phones, iPads, laptops, wallets, cash, AirPods, personal hygiene products, etc.,” said one Florida mom. “What [about] kids who can’t afford to buy clear backpacks or replacements?”
It didn’t work at MSD in 2018 & it won’t work county-wide now. This directive will lead to theft of personal items, make menstruation obvious, show books *they* don’t want read, etc. Clear bags won’t last a full year & will add unnecessary financial strain to struggling families. https://t.co/7aUCvSpnYg
— Sarah Lerner (@mrs_lerner) May 6, 2023
Broward County Schools attempted to implement a clear backpack requirement in 2018 after receiving a large donation of clear backpacks in the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. However, the decision proved very unpopular, and after immense backlash, the district announced they would drop the rule after just two months.
CBS News noted that the new announcement followed just hours after a Taravella High School Student was arrested, who sparked panic this week after posting online: “Friday, I will make history as the top school slaughter.” The student, an 18-year-old girl, is now reportedly facing multiple felonies.
After speaking with students about the announcement, one high schooler reportedly told CBS,
“Honestly, I think it’s not fair for the people who are unrelated to any gang stuff and bad things in general. I think it’s an invasion of privacy. If they really are going to bring guns and stuff to school, I think that they will find a way to like to bring them, and so I don’t think the clear backpacks are a good reason.”
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