Students in a south Florida school district will only be permitted to use clear backpacks at school in an effort to curb the rise in violent crime.
Broward County Public Schools, a K-12 district with around 260,000 students, announced the sweeping policy Friday. The policy change will take effect Aug. 21 and is expected to remain for the entire 2023-24 school year.
The rule not only applies to backpacks but other bags and containers such as purses, duffel bags, fanny packs and lunch boxes.
“The purpose of this requirement is to add an additional layer of safety across our District and provide added safeguards for our students, staff, and faculty,” a statement from the district’s website reads.
The policy change comes just days after a shooting threat in the district went viral on social media, resulting in the arrest of an 18-year-old student. The district instituted a similar “clear bag” policy in 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which is also in Broward County. The district scrapped the policy after five months.
“[The policy] 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,” said BCPS Interim Superintendent Earlean C. Smiley.
But not everyone agrees that the policy is necessary nor that it gets at the root problem.
“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,” said a Broward County high schooler, in an interview with the Miami CBS affiliate. “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.”
Still, during the 2021-22 school year, Broward County reported over 12,000 “acts against a person” incidents, including attacks, mutual fights, assault and battery. The chief juvenile probation officer for Broward said in 2018 that the county had the largest share of “the most serious, violent [and] chronic” juvenile offenders in Florida.