Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Backpack Ban Revokes Students' 'Haul Passes'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Backpack Ban Revokes Students' 'Haul Passes'

Article excerpt

Rosalind White, a Spanish teacher at Mandarin High School, paces

the front of her classroom, avoiding a sea of backpacks

surrounding students in the rest of the room.

While she steers clear of the bags, administrators at some

Duval County schools have put themselves between students and

their backpacks.

Five of the 17 high schools in Duval County -- Englewood,

Forrest, Andrew Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Sandalwood -- have

policies forbidding students from bringing backpacks to class.

Mandarin High School administrators are considering similar

policies. Students at Ribault High School must carry transparent

bags.

Administrators cite safety concerns -- ranging from carrying

contraband to taking up too much space in hallways and

classrooms that in some schools are already overcrowded -- as

reasons for the limits.

While individual schools have made decisions about use of

backpacks, the school system has not instituted a policy for all

schools.

"I haven't seen any necessity to go district-wide with it," said

Jim Ragans, assistant superintendent for high schools.

In spite of his reluctance, Ragans supports individual high

school policies.

"There're many things that can be carried in with a backpack

that you might not see," Ragans said. "I think in the schools

that have it, I've had no complaints."

Though school officials are worried about the safety issues

backpacks may pose, administrators in other parts of the state

are not. Hillsborough, Leon, Dade and Palm Beach counties have

not instituted backpack bans. The American Civil Liberties Union

office in Miami has not heard of a ban anywhere in the state,

said Robyn Blumner, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

Administrators at Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough,

N.J., have banned backpacks in the classroom, said Ed Martone,

executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. …

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