Students wear clear backpacks outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Monday, April 2, 2018. Extra security is one of a number of security measures the school district has enacted as a result of the Feb. 14 shooting at the school that killed 17. (John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS)
Photo: John McCall
Photo: John McCall

A local school will ban backpacks, book bags from classrooms as part of security changes

Students at Vandalia-Butler High School will have to leave their backpacks and book bags in their lockers beginning next month.

The change follows a security audit that was done last school year.

Beginning Jan. 8, Butler High School will no longer allow students to carry backpacks or book bags throughout the day, according to Communications and Public Relations Coordinator Anaka Johnson.

The students can still bring backpacks and book bags to school but must leave them in their locker during the school day, Johnson said.

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Kenna Haycox, a senior policy consultant with the Ohio School Boards Association, said other schools in the state have similar language in their student handbooks, but she couldn’t immediately say how common it is.

Haycox said it is a local decision that can stem from worries over students having dangerous items in the backpack, or even students tripping over backpacks in classroom or cafeteria aisles.

“Some districts do have specific things they consider as they look at their comprehensive security emergency management and safety plan,” Haycox said. “There are all kinds of things that come up, some in consultation with law enforcement, some from teacher or parent input.”

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She said other schools might be hesitant to enact such a policy if the physical layout of their building makes it difficult for students to get their lockers between classes.

Other building security enhancements at Vandalia-Butler include providing ALICE training for the staff and age-appropriate ALICE training for students.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The training provides preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter, according to the ALICE Training Institute.

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Vandalia-Butler Superintendent Robert O’Leary said the safety of the schools are the district’s number one priority.

“It is a huge responsibility to ensure the safety of the lives that have been entrusted to us,” he said. “The security of our buildings and the safety of the students, staff and visitors in our buildings are our first and foremost priority. We continuously research school safety, review and evaluate our plans and procedures and will make changes when necessary.”

Staff Writer Jeremy P. Kelley contributed to this report.

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