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Clear Backpack Debate Continues After Weapons Found in Broward Schools

Jan 15, 2024Jan 15, 2024

Items that can be considered weapons are found on students much more often than the public realizes.

So far this school year, security teams have confiscated 431 weapons at Broward County Public Schools, fueling the debate over whether clear backpacks should be mandatory.

School board member Daniel Foganholi tweeted pictures of two airsoft pellet guns and a dagger, which could be an envelope opener, which were found inside backpacks at three different schools.

"It can be a second grader or third grader bringing something in to show a friend or something, you know, look at this, just to show off maybe, so it's not the intent to do harm but just to show off, but just the fact that the weapons made it on to a campus is upsetting," Foganholi said.

"And it's important for parents to understand what kids are bringing into the school," said Max Schachter, who promotes school safety through his Safe Schools For Alex foundation, named after his son who was murdered in the Parkland shooting.

He says finding weapons before any harm is done shows security measures have improved.

"They would not have caught these numbers of weapons if they would not have implemented the safety measures, they’ve got randomized searches, we don't have metal detectors in every school but you’ve got random metal detective searches happening, and that's a deterrent," Schachter said.

School board chair Lori Alhadeff ran for election on the school security issue after her daughter, Alyssa, was murdered at MSD High School.

"So I would say our schools are safer than ever, we have made this a top priority for our school district, we have implemented multiple layers of school safety protection, from increasing behavioral threat assessments to having more security physically on campus," said Alhadeff.

She said she's still undecided on the merits of clear backpacks because they tried it at MSD High School after the tragedy, and students were found to be easily hiding things even inside the clear bookbags.

Foganholi supports the concept as part of a layered approach to safety.

"Clear backpacks are not gonna be the end-all solution, but it's going to be a layer," he said.

Both Alhadeff and Foganholi agree that school safety has to start at home.

"This is something that falls on us as parents, for us to say, let me check my child's backpack before they leave the house," said Foganholi.

The school district is hosting a town hall meeting on the clear backpack issue on Jun. 12 at 6 p.m. at Plantation High School.