Broward County Schools Reverses Clear Backpack Requirement

The clear backpack policy was supposed to go into effect August 21 and apply to all students, grades pre-K through 12.

UPDATE JUNE 29, 2023: Broward County (Florida) Schools has reversed its decision to require all students, grades pre-K through 12, to only use clear backpacks.

The policy, which was supposed to go into effect August 21, would have applied to backpacks, duffel bags, fanny packs, lunch boxes, and purses. However, the requirement was quashed on June 13.

The requirement and then its reversal has caused confusion with parents, who immediately protested the policy after its passage, reports the Sun Sentinel. Demand for clear backpacks soared after the initial announcement.

The see-through backpack policy also nearly ruined plans by the Children’s Service Council of Broward County to provide backpacks to thousands of needy kids, costing the council $21,000.

The clear backpack policy was intended to reduce the number of weapons on campus. Broward county school officials claimed the number of weapons found on school grounds was increasing, however, the Sun Sentinel reports there hasn’t been an increase.

Additionally, the way the school board made its decision on the policy might have violated Florida’s Sunshine Law.

ORIGINAL MAY 9, 2023 ARTICLE:

Broward County (Florida) Schools announced on Friday that beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, only clear backpacks and bags will be permitted for students in all grades.

The policy, which will go into effect August 21, applies not only to backpacks but also duffel bags, fanny packs, lunch boxes, and purses.

The only exceptions to this policy, which pre-K through 12 students will have to abide by, include:

  • A small non-transparent pouches for personal hygiene items.
  • Thermal food containers carried inside clear lunch boxes.
  • School-approved sport-specific carrying cases for athletic equipment.
  • School-approved instrument-specific carrying cases for band equipment.

“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,” the district said in an online announcement. “While backpacks are not mandatory, they must be clear and all contents within the backpack must be visible.”

The decision comes five years after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, 2018.

Other districts have implemented their own clear backpack policies. In Michigan, Oxford Community Schools adopted the policy after a 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School killed four and injured seven others.

Flint (Michigan) Community Schools banned all backpacks last week, prompted by the district’s growing safety concerns.

“By banning backpacks altogether and adding an increased security presence across the district, we can better control what is being brought into our buildings, Flint Community Schools Superintendent Kevelin Jones said in a letter posted on the district’s website.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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One response to “Broward County Schools Reverses Clear Backpack Requirement”

  1. ROQUE BRICENO says:

    Here is the dialogue between Hispanic Unity, represented by Wolf, and La Iglesia La Roca de Hollywood, represented by Roque, regarding the opinion on the article by ROBIN HATTERSLEY, Editor-in-Chief.
    This conversation is also about seeking support as we want to celebrate the Health and Wellness Fair on August 27th and would like to implement these transparent backpacks as a pilot plan at the fair with their assistance:
    Roque: Wolf, I’m reaching out because of a recent Broward County regulation requiring all school backpacks to be transparent. While this is important for safety reasons, it presents a challenge to families who have already purchased regular backpacks for the upcoming school year. Do you know of any organization or contact that might be willing to donate transparent school backpacks? This would immensely help families who cannot afford new backpacks that meet the requirements. At La Iglesia La Roca, we could coordinate a distribution campaign to ensure that these backpacks get to the students who need them. We’re also open to partnering on any initiative that provides a solution to this issue. Any guidance or support you can offer on this matter would be greatly appreciated. It’s crucial for us as a community to come together and support our families during these times of change. Thank you in advance for considering this request.
    Hispanic Unity: The requirement for Broward students to carry transparent backpacks has been dropped. Read this article for more information: Broward County Schools to Only Allow Clear Backpacks Next Year
    Roque: Certainly, Wolf, it’s interesting to observe Broward County’s decision regarding transparent backpacks. Although I understand their reasons, I see here an opportunity to integrate a proactive approach that aligns both with our Christian values of transparency and the broader goal of enhancing school safety. The integration of cloud-based video surveillance and data analytics can transform how we approach safety in our schools. By taking the initiative to implement transparent backpacks, we are not merely adhering to a trend but setting an example of proactiveness. This initiative could demonstrate our commitment to ensuring a safe learning environment for our students. Additionally, our Christian ethos emphasizes the importance of transparency, openness, and honesty in our daily lives. Encouraging the use of transparent backpacks can metaphorically represent these values, reminding our students of the importance of living transparent lives. The potential resistance from parents regarding additional expenses is understandable. However, if we can lead this initiative by providing these backpacks to our students at no or minimal cost, we are not only alleviating a financial burden but also strengthening our community’s trust. Adopting such a proactive stance could position us as visionaries in the realm of educational safety, acting not merely in response to regulations but in anticipation of future needs. What are your thoughts on this, Wolf? Your insights would be invaluable as we navigate this possible new direction.

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