Okemos High School backpack policy draws ire at Board of Education meeting

Okemos High School backpack policy draws ire at Board of Education meeting
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 10:38 PM EST
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OKEMOS, Mich. (WILX) - Students of Okemos High School are no longer be allowed to carry backpacks or bags in the building.

School officials said the policy was made to improve school safety, but people are torn on the issue.

Read: Okemos High School’s controversial backpack policy raises eyebrows

Okemos Public Schools’ Board of Education had a meeting Monday evening, and while the new backpack policy wasn’t on the agenda, students made sure it became a big part of the meeting.

“I, and many other students, feel frustrated as we feel like we’re in a fight trying to change a rule that’s already been set in place, rather than being able to work together to find a solution that will benefit everyone,” said one student.

Students are required to leave their bags in their lockers throughout the day. A few students said school leaders should have petitioned the students for their feedback.

“It became clear that nothing was thought through before they declared this ban,” said another student. “Students were the ones that had to discuss the issues, bringing menstruation products to schools. Students were the ones that had to ask about specific bags -- like purses and instrument cases and device bags. The implication that this decision was decided quickly and without much thought is rather alarming.”

The concerns about students concealing a weapon isn’t just something Okemos Public Schools is concerned about. While violence at school shouldn’t be something a student has to worry about, it’s something Kobe Rochester -- a senior at Sexton High School -- thinks about often.

“This is a school. This isn’t a party on a Friday night. This is a place where we learn -- the opposite of violence,” Rochester said. “It’s the reality we face. I see kids outside of school, the same kids that we walk the halls with will post pictures with guns and gangs and these are the same kids I have five or six classes a day with. It’s kind of scary, but you just mind your business, keep your head down and keep going, you know?”

Aside from a no backpack or clear bag policy, Rochester believes metal detectors are the answer. It’s an opinion that Tammy Stahl -- a parent of a grade school student and former Transportation Security Administration officer -- agrees with.

Related: Oxford schools will require clear backpacks for middle, high school students

“Even if you have a clear backpack, you can still hide things in the middle of that clear backpack. You can even have a smaller gun as well,” Stahl said. “I think it’s metal detectors or bust. We have metal detectors to our finest judges and elected officials, we should have it for our children. Children should be number one at all cost.”

Stahl pointed out that hooded sweatshirts and waistbands have also been known to hide weapons, which is why she advocates for metal detectors.

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