DECATUR TOWNSHIP — Students at a central Indiana school will need a new backpack heading into next school year.
The Decatur Township school board made a move this week that will require students from K-12 in the township to have a clear backpack starting with the 2023-24 school year.
According to the school corporation, in a statement to parents, the move was made on the grounds of student safety.
As we continue to support our district mission of school safety, we want to update you with an additional measure approved by our School Board. In previous communications, we outlined current safety measures such as the increase of the Decatur Township School Police Force to seven officers, as well as the use of metal detector wands and random canine searches implemented in our schools.
Understanding that there is no one solution, we want to make you aware of a new policy that will begin next school year. At the School Board Meeting on March 14, 2023, School Board Members voted to move forward with requiring students K-12 to use clear backpacks at school, starting in the 2023-2024 school year. The purpose of all of these practices outlined above is to deter anyone from bringing unsafe and unnecessary items into our schools.
The statement continues by sharing with parents the desire to find options for affordable options for parents and students alike.
"We recognize that this announcement generates many feelings and questions. Rest assured that we will address all aspects of this matter proactively, such as how this will impact athletics, performing arts, purses, lunch boxes, etc. We are also exploring affordable options to ensure clear backpack availability for all of our students. In the upcoming months between now and the start of school, the policy will be created and presented to the School Board for approval and then communicated district-wide."
In December of 2022, Decatur Central High School was placed on a lockdown Tuesday after a gun was found on campus.
Then in January of 2023, a gun was found during an incident at Decatur Middle School.
WRTV spoke to parents who have children that go to school in the district. Some say they understand the reason for the move to clear backpacks, others say they don’t.
"I understand it because kids are bringing guns and weapons and stuff like that to school but I don’t feel like the younger kids should be punished,” Kelsey Neal said.
Neal says her three children will all go to Decatur Township Schools next year. She says it’s getting harder as a parent to send their children to school.
“It’s just not like it was when I was a kid. You have to be very protective of your kids, you can’t trust everybody. There is a lot more bullying going on,” Neal added.
Zachary Hurd also has children to attend school in the district. He told WRTV that his daughter wasn’t thrilled about the decision.
“Just watch what your kids are taking to school. Watch what your kids have in their backpacks,” Hurd concluded.