Backpacks Banned by Michigan School District Due to Safety Concerns

Jaxon Williams, a third-grader at Freeman Elementary, hangs his black Trailmaker backpack from the back of a door in a house in Flint, Michigan. Since almost a week ago, it hasn’t been moved.

His mother, City Councilwoman Ladel Lewis, remarked, “It’s officially retired, like a jersey.”

That’s because the Flint Community Schools, where Jaxon attends along with over 2,800 other children on 11 campuses, have been subject to a backpack ban since this week after district officials became concerned about threats to the safety of the pupils. It will continue to be in effect at least until the middle of June when the school year ends.

Dr. Lewis and other district parents expressed their dissatisfaction and mistrust following the first week of the prohibition, claiming that determined pupils would conceal their carrying of firearms. The efficiency of such prohibitions has also been questioned by certain experts.

Less than two weeks had passed when the district’s high school was forced to close for two days due to a security threat. The prohibition, which permits bags the size of small purses, was enacted.

After a string of school shootings across the nation, including one in Oxford, Michigan, a town about 30 miles outside of Flint, where a student shot and killed four classmates at a high school in 2021, educators voiced their growing concerns about school safety at a special meeting of the Flint Board of Education.

Weapons have even been brought to school by younger students. In Newport News, Virginia, a first-grader, age 6, shot his teacher with a firearm in January.

Director of Student Services Ernest Steward remarked at the meeting, “In my 15 years of service here in Flint Community Schools, I’ve never felt the way I feel now.

School Shootings Increasing: Expert

According to Justin Heinze, an educational psychologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health who specializes in preventing school violence, Mr. Steward’s safety worries are legitimate.

According to Dr. Heinze, “it’s pretty much undeniable that the number of shootings and the severity of shootings are going up.”

The National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2022 that there were 93 school shootings overall during the 2020–21 academic year, which is a record high since 2000–01.

Dr. Heinze estimated that in any given year, 3% of kids in kindergarten through 12th grade will carry a weapon to school.

Mr. Steward suggested doing away with backpacks for at least the remainder of the school year during the board meeting on April 25.

It was “just one incident of ongoing issues we’ve had this year around students bringing weapons into our buildings in backpacks,” he added of the threat to the high school. He stated that the district had previously prohibited backpacks.

A hodgepodge of straightforward laws, such as those requiring clear backpacks or outright banning them, have gained increased significance as rising gun violence wreaks havoc in American classrooms and the president admits he can do nothing to stop it.

Backpack restrictions have recently been implemented in other places, including one last week at an elementary school in Ocala, Florida, after a student brought in a toy gun that resembled a real one, according to a district official.

Flint School District Implements Backpack Ban Due to Safety Concerns

In an April 27 letter announcing the new policy, Kevelin Jones, the superintendent in Flint, wrote that “backpacks make it easier for students to hide weapons, which can be disassembled and harder to identify or hidden” but that “clear backpacks do not completely fix this issue.”

“We can better control what is being brought into our buildings by outright forbidding backpacks and adding an increased security presence throughout the district,” he stated.

Dr. Heinze claimed that there was little evidence to support either outlawing backpacks or mandating clear ones, noting that there had only been a small number of in-depth investigations conducted in the previous 20 years.

Dr. Lewis questioned the need for the prohibition of pupils in primary schools. She claimed she had ceased packing Jaxon’s bag with supplies for his after-school activities, including a notebook, a folder, and a change of clothes.

Since kindergarten, Chloe Combs, an eighth grader at Holmes STEM Academy in Flint, has brought her lunch to class each day, according to her mother Sherese Combs. Chloe, 14, switched to a smaller backpack on Monday that can only hold a smaller lunch container from her previous backpack, which had enough space for a lunch bag and a water bottle. The amount of food she can bring isn’t quite as much, Ms. Combs said, “but she manages.”

Ms. Combs emphasized the need for parents to take additional steps to prevent their kids from bringing firearms to school. She voiced her displeasure over a violent altercation between two parents at a local charter school during student pickup, in which the state police claimed one woman had shot another.

“The only time I’m comfortable is when she gets home from school,” Ms. Combs said about Chloe. “It’s just very stressful.”

If you’re looking for the inside scoop on anything seedy in California and the surrounding areas, go no farther than The California Examiner.

Never look back with regret. There have been some recent shifts in California:

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