The Jefferson School District 251 in Idaho has enforced a backpack ban after a 13-year-old student was caught with a gun in her bag. It was the second time a student went undetected as she carried a handgun to Rigby Middle School this year.
Though the middle schooler didn't use the gun nor cause any harm, police took her into custody for an investigation. However, some parents in the school community believed that more solutions should be established to prevent a potential tragedy. The backpack ban is not a proactive step to address the underlying problems among the students, they said.
In a Facebook Live video, Superintendent Chad Martin addressed the school community and confirmed that students at Rigby Middle School, Farnsworth Middle School, Rigby High School, and Jefferson High School would no longer be allowed to use backpacks. He also acknowledged the parents' and students' frustration, sadness, and anger after the recent arrest, as this has happened a second time. He appealed for cooperation from everyone.
"We want to work together to make our schools safer and to partner with our community to keep Rigby strong," Martin said.
Replacing Backpacks with Wagons, Carts
Following the backpack ban, students at these Idaho schools have been sharing videos on TikTok to show the containers they now use to carry their things around the school. The administration instructed the students only to bring what they needed per class and leave everything else in their lockers.
To show transparency, some of the students have been using wagons, household organizers, shopping carts, and even popcorn machines to carry their books in between classes. One TikTok video uploader said in the caption that this was further sparked by a school shooting in another state this week.
In May 2021, a sixth-grader boldly open-fired at Rigby Middle School using her father's handgun, which she hid in her backpack. Though no one died, the incident injured two students and one school staff, prompting an investigation by the Idaho State Board of Education's School Safety and Security Program. The board released their findings and recommendations on Monday, September 27, with 29 suggestions on improving safety in the school premises.
It comes as one parent said that the school failed to provide the appropriate action after the first middle school student was caught with a gun in school. One mother told East Idaho News that the problem last May started with an altercation with the students. While one was suspended, no one followed through on the other student, who was apparently writing down her vengeful plans in her notebook.
The parents also asked school officials to be more open to communication, while other parents said metal detectors should be installed at school entrances.
Jefferson School District 251 also met with the parents on more than one occasion. Some of the adults believed that their kids were affected by the rising bullying cases in school. Experts who were in attendance during the meeting recommended evidence-based anti-bullying programs.
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