Cy-Fair ISD announces policy requiring high school, middle school students to use clear backpacks

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In an email sent out to Cy-Fair ISD parents and guardians June 21, CFISD Superintendent Mark Henry announced the district will require all high school and middle school students to use clear backpacks during the 2018-19 school year.

Elementary school students will still be allowed to use regular backpacks. Additionally, students will still be permitted to use band bags, athletic bags and drill and cheer team bags, but students must store them immediately upon arriving at school.

“We are living in a difficult time requiring difficult decisions from school districts,” Henry wrote in the email. “While these changes present an inconvenience to our students and parents, we must continue to be vigilant to protect the safety of our students and staff.”

There are no size requirements placed on the backpacks. However, the maximum purse size permitted in grades 6-12 has been set at six inches by nine inches. Additional details on design and other restrictions can be found on the district website.

The decision was made with input from a safety and security committee that began meeting earlier this month and will continue meeting throughout the summer. Henry said any additional safety or security plans will be communicated to parents.

In a budget passed June 14, CFISD officials included $1 million in local funding to enhance school safety measures. A $500,000 increase for the CFISD Police Department also includes money to hire six additional officers, two dispatchers, a security systems specialist, a records clerk and two canines.

“At this time, our plans for this funding are not definite, but we do know that we want to establish a districtwide crisis response team,” CFISD Chief Financial Officer Stuart Snow said at the meeting. “The additional funding may also [cover]many other things such as the increased use of and the purchase of more metal detectors, additional mental health services, additional police officers and canines, the expansion of counseling services and the expansion of mental health evaluations to identify students at risk of harming others.”

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COMMENT
  1. IMO a completely useless change…anything can easily be concealed given the binders, books and sports bags that can be brought into school. Especially middle school girls will now have to deal with concealing their toiletries from mockery.
    This has nothing to do with safety unless metal detectors are installed, start times are staggered to avoid hundreds of students at the same time thru doors etc.

  2. Clear backpacks are insignificant, but metal detectors (which have not been approved from what I understand) would be a step (many layers are needed) in the right direction (one of the first and the worst school massacre in the US was back in 1927, killing 44 and injuring 58, and did not involve any knives or guns). If you are so concerned about knowing what the students were carrying (keeping in mind that some school killings occurred well after first period by non-students), then you would be thorough and search all belongings and pat everyone down. You also would not allow everyone and their cousin to just stroll into the school after being buzzed in, without any verification, which I see every single time I go there. This has been going on for over a century and nothing will ever change because you are not willing to do what it takes to put an end to it. Everyone knows that and all we can hope for every time there is something on the news is, “Dear God please not my child’s school.” If an idiotic thug teenager can figure out how defenseless our schools are and kill our children, what makes you think clear backpacks are going to change their minds? Let me know when you’re actually serious about defending our schools. Again, school districts are not willing to do what it takes to put an end to this.

  3. I agree with most parents that metal detectors are needed in every school. I would love to see some of our taxes and all PTA funds go towards that in order to keep our children safe in school. I do like the clear backpack policy as I believe it will help with other issues such as the distribution of drugs in our schools. No one thinks of it as an immidiate threat but if we can help control the distribution of drugs in our schools, why not? It’s important, not just for school officials, for us as parents to know what is in our children’s backpacks. I know clear backpacks will not solve this issue either but anything that helps and makes it a bit more difficult to hide is good with me. I also think police presence, k-9 units, additional security cameras, and continuous practices of drills will also help but not solve the issue at hand. I will definitely agree with everyone else and think the only thing, in addition to the above measures, that will solve such senseless school massacres is to install metal detectors in our schools.

  4. Clear backpacks are only an inconvenience for students and parents. Just about anything can still be concealed within the normal contents, ie binders and books, of the backpack. Not to mention those bags are cheaply made and don’t stand up to the weight of books or everyday wear and tear.

    I can see some benefit in metal detectors and recourse officers. Perhaps even some policy change in regards to accessing school premises.

    There is a much deeper issue here than what kids are and aren’t allowed to bring to school. The growing number of restrictions being placed on our kids, cause more anxiety. That combined with the social pressure, and the emotional roller coaster experienced at this age can create an unstable atmosphere for the kids. We won’t fix anything by further intrusion of there already limited privacy, by forcing the use of clear bags. These kids are at a point in life where they’re trying to establish themselves as capable individuals. Fighting this natural progression could have negative impacts.

    Our problem starts in the home. Parents are sending kids with no morals or respect to schools for someone else to deal with. This puts schools in a difficult position. I have to give credit to those individuals who work in our schools trying to educate and better our children. That job has unfairly been expanded to a role much more just teaching. Parents need to step up and be parents. But that’s a whole different topic.

    Let’s just consider what would clear backpacks actually solve. Not much.

  5. Brittany Bennett

    While they are not going to deter much, why not try anything? Metal detectors are clearly much more effective, however at this point let’s try it ALL. ALL safeguards are in place to help save our children. Clear backpacks are not a nuisance, and I’ll pay just as much for clear backpacks as I will colored ones so I’m buying it! We do need metal detectors ASAP.

  6. I don’t mind the clear back packs, however, I think the limitation to exclude mesh backpack is a lil on the excessive side.. Kids, let alone middle school and high school kids, are rough on EVERYTHING. We’ve replaced 10+ iPhone screens to give a small inclination. So the annoyance of buying a new backpack is one thing, but to limit it to only plastic… I’m upset simply because these things won’t last a whole school year… Mesh backpacks should have been included because you can still have visibility while standing up to kids roughest of days. It would also let the parents have the financial break of only having to buy one backpack for there child or children a school year vs the 2-3 that I have a feeling I’ll be buying our two high school athlete and band kids.
    Keep our kids safe, pay they attention, show interest but also make sure they follow the golden rule.. we’ll end school violence when the kids take care of each other on and off campus.

  7. Employing professional armed retired military or police to RECOGNIZE danger is the ONLY reasonable defense for our children and staff. There’s money in the budget. Besides being a waste of money, the bags will rip and tear, who wants to spend the money and time to go buy another bag knowing it’d rip again, and what’s the trash doing to our environment? The fact that the kids can use other bags is proof it’s a waste of time, money and resources.

  8. As a grandparent I will say fine but where do the girls keep there emergency monthly supplies??? Other than that its a step but a very small one.

    I am angry beyond words. Where is
    the SAFETY FOR OUR STUDENTS???
    WHERE IS THEIR PROTECTION???
    WHERE ARE THE LIMITED DOOR
    ACCESSES??
    WHERE ARE THE ARMED SECURITY?
    DO ALL CLASSROOMS HAVE LOCK DOORS???
    WHERE IS THE SAFE AREA IN ALL CLASSROOMS???
    WHERE ARE THE METAL DETECTORS???
    I pay my taxes and demand that these kids be afforded a safe environment to learn in.
    Sick & tired of excuses!!!
    I want these kids lives valued & a clear backpack is not the answer!!
    If these people that were elected can’t do the job of protecting our kids in CFISD its time to remove them from their positions and put competent people on the board who are more interested in saving the next generation
    from death at the hands of criminals.
    Talk is cheap! School is starting soon and if
    they can’t guarantee a safe environment we shouldn’t send our kids into these places where their lives are not valued or in danger.
    I dont want to wait until we hear on the news that one of our schools was hit and 5, 10 or more innocent kids are dead.

  9. Clear backpacks may be helpful but are not enough. Try uniform dress – a great equalizer and hopefully lets you spot outsiders. Where are more campus security / Pd on campus?
    Hire fewer Deputy Superintendents and pay for more boots on the ground!

  10. Clear backpacks are not the solution of the big problem to is sell arms to everybody, this is not going to do anything. I hope counseling do more

  11. Brendan Kelly

    It’s going to extremes. Instead of working on prevention through education (we are talking about schools, hello!), they are employing the strong arm tools of a police state and sowing distrust among each other and teachers. The signals we send out by the metal detectors and backpacks only amplify fear and paranoia among each other, turning sensitive teenage angst into full blown fear. Children with deep problems want to be listened to and talk with but they won’t go running to a guidance counselor or mental health specialist, who by the way they know are already there. By increasing those students sense of isolation and despair by using the pervasive tactics of the all watching power of the police state, those rare students full of this rage, desperation and loneliness will only see those toxic feelings increase, challenging them to find new ways around the system to express their pent of anger. These are not/not the tools of of an open and caring society looking to show compassionate ways of working together but instead a reason to spend more money to “ghettoize” our schools by treating kids like potential criminals and create the atmosphere of junvenile detention centers.

  12. As many others, I do not believe this measure will do anything for the safety of our students. What school shooter brought in their weapon in a backpack? How many weapons can one get in a 6x9x5 bag?
    I support measures to make our children safer. There are many other things that can be done to do a lot more than clear backpacks. For example, I am buzzed into my child’s school without question every time I come to drop off his lunch or pick him up early for an appointment (which happens less than 5 times a year so there’s now at they recognize me through the camera system)
    I urge our leaders to think of real solutions and not just feel good ones that will do nothing but force parents to buy a new backpack every few months.

  13. I don’t support the clear backpack. It is a nuisance and a waste of my money. My high school child will go thru at 3 because it cannot hold all of the stuff she has. There is not enough time in between classes to go to her locker so she has to carry everything on her daily. It was stressful for her trying to put her feminine stuff in a small bag that will not be embarrassing. High school is hard enough and this adds more anxiety and stress. Why didn’t we go with metal detectors this year? It’s a waste of my money to buy these useless plastic backpacks that will not last.

  14. I’m fine with the clear backpack policy, and yes I have a middle school daughter. I agree with metal detectors comments here as well. Beyond these items, we MUST look at the state of our children’s social skills. Surely everyone recognizes that our humanness is slipping away, and I contribute that to forming virtual friendships, and not giving these kids the social skills they need to build themselves up, the skills to cope when things don’t go their way… I mean these are basic skills these kids aren’t learning.

  15. Most people commenting do not work in the security field and don’t understand that metal detectors will not increase school safety. Detectors will do just as they say, they will detect the presence of firearms which has nothing to do with making schools safer.

    Detectors will not prevent an armed student from just walking into a school and up to the detector, pulling it out, and start shooting into a crowd of students all waiting to go through screening. In fact, I could make the argument that having detectors increases student risk because the process creates a congregation of people that are open and exposed.

    I am for increased student safety and against the nonsense of proposals that falsely suggest safety and only put more tax payer money needlessly into the hands of business to make a profit off fear.

  16. Clear backpacks are a waste of money for the obvious reason that they are cheaply made. My daughter’s middle school no longer allows them to use lockers, so in addition to the cheap backpack, they are being made to carry all their stuff and sooner or later we will have to replace. And although they do not carry around textbooks, each teacher requires their own binder/notebook for their class which puts a lot of wear and tear on the backpack. Let’s face it, without metal detectors, any kid can walk in with a gun hidden in the waistband of their jeans covered with their shirt making clear backpacks useless.

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Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.
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