Flint, Michigan School District Bans Backpacks After Multiple Violent Threats
Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Students in the Flint, Michigan, school district will not be allowed to carry backpacks to school for the rest of the year.

The Flint Board of Education voted unanimously last week to ban students from carrying backpacks. The decision came after two separate safety incidents occurred at Southwestern Classical Academy in Flint, both of which prompted officials to close schools in the area. The policy went into effect on Monday.

“School safety remains an important topic for districts across the country, including here in Flint,” Superintendent Kevelin Jones wrote in a letter to parents Thursday. “As a district, we are taking a 360-degree approach to create safe spaces for children’s academic journeys. To that end, we have reached a point where we must make difficult decisions and ask our school community to demonstrate flexibility, understanding and a shared sense of urgency when it comes to safety.”

As of Monday, students are not allowed to carry backpacks into school buildings. Small purses carrying personal items, clear plastic bags with gym clothes, and lunchboxes are allowed within reason, the letter noted, but those bags will still be subject to search. If a student brings a backpack to school, the office will not keep the student’s belongings. Instead, he or she will be sent to the school office and a parent or guardian will pick up the student’s belongings. Athletes will also have to drop off their equipment at the front office every day.

“Across the country, we have seen an increase in threatening behavior and contraband, including weapons, being brought into schools at all levels,” Jones wrote. “Backpacks make it easier for students to hide weapons, which can be disassembled and harder to identify or hidden in pockets, inside books or under other items. Clear backpacks do not completely fix this issue. By banning backpacks altogether and adding an increased security presence across the district, we can better control what is being brought into our buildings.”

According to MLive, the board had suggested the same proposal earlier this year, but it was voted down. At that time, Jones suggested allowing only clear backpacks, but that was also rejected. It is not the first time that Flint district has banned backpacks; they previously did it in 2007.

“This is a difficult decision, but it is one that will immediately benefit our district and the safety of those we serve,” Jones wrote. “This has been approved by the Flint Board of Education, the district’s administration and principals, with support from the Flint Police Department and other safety advocates. We have thought long and hard about this decision, knowing that it will impact how scholars and families prepare for their days and operations in the classroom. However, based on the issues we continue to see across the country regarding school safety, we believe that this is the best solution for those we serve.”


The decision was motivated in part by two separate incidents that prompted schools to close; both incidents happened at Southwestern Classical Academy. First, in December 2021, a student at the school was riding a school bus when she recorded a “rap-style” video threatening to commit a school shooting “like Oxford,” a reference to the 2021 school shooting in nearby Oakland County. The school closed in response.

Then in April, the school closed due to another threat.

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