Broward School Board Votes 5-4 Against Implementing Clear Backpacks, Bags Rule

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The Broward County School Board pictured with Interim Superintendent Dr. Earlean Smiley.

By Bryan Boggiano

The school board voted not to implement a proposed rule requiring students to have only clear backpacks in the upcoming 2023/2024 school year.

The board’s vote followed Monday’s town hall at Plantation High School, where more than 150 parents, students, community members, and educators almost universally panned the proposed policy.

Attendees argued the backpacks would provide a false sense of security, be a cost burden to financially underserved families, increase violence and bullying, fail to reduce weapon or drug smuggling, invade privacy, and disproportionately affect students with disabilities, among other arguments.

Parents and board members also stated there was no clear-cut evidence to state clear backpacks are effective.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board ultimately voted 5-4 to scrap the proposal, which would have taken effect on Aug. 21. The vote also removes the item from the board’s scheduled June 20 workshop and July 25 special meeting.

If the new rule had passed, students would only have been allowed to carry clear backpacks and bags, such as lunch boxes, purses, and duffel bags. Mesh and colored backpacks would have been forbidden, even if transparent.

Exceptions to the rule included small non-transparent pouches for personal hygiene products, thermal food containers in lunch boxes, school-approved sport-specific athletic equipment cases, and school-approved instrument-specific band equipment cases.

Nicole Morst, North Region Advisory Council high school representative, said Monday it is important for the board to listen to parents and to do what is right.

While she was satisfied with the final vote, she said she hopes conversations on security continue.

“While I am happy that the board chose to listen to parents’ concerns and move past clear backpacks, I hope that they will bring metal detectors to the table,” Morst said.

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Bryan Boggiano

Bryan Boggiano
Bryan has a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and earned his masters in geosciences from Florida International University, where he focused in atmospheric sciences. His interests include weather, entertainment, and municipal government.

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