Education

Clear backpacks a rule at Miami-Dade schools? Parents may soon have a say, post-Parkland

Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo.
Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo. Miami Herald File/2016

The Miami-Dade School Board plans to implement a pilot program to give each school in the district the option to make clear book bags a requirement after the Parkland shooting.

But parents would have the deciding vote on whether or not their school would implement such a policy, according to a proposal by Miami-Dade Schools board member Susie Castillo at the the board’s Wednesday meeting.

On Thursday, after a 90-minute discussion, the board amended Castillo’s item to give the superintendent the authority to implement the pilot program and to review it on an annual basis, beginning with the 2018-19 school year, spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said.

Castillo’s proposal would amend the dress code and school uniforms policy to add language that would provide schools the option to participate in a mandatory clear backpack program.

Parents would have the opportunity to vote on whether to establish such a program. At least 50 percent, plus one, would have to approve adopting such a measure, the proposal says.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida visited a school in Washington, D.C. on March 22. The students held a rally to end gun violence in all communities.

The move comes in the wake of last month’s shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. A former student opened fire with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and killed 17 students and educators just before dismissal on Valentine’s Day.

On Wednesday, the Broward school district announced heightened safety measures that will require Stoneman Douglas students to use clear backpacks. The rule goes into effect when students return from spring break the first week of April. The district is providing the backpacks to the students.

Formulation of a plan in Miami-Dade is still in its infancy stage, Gonzalez-Diego said, and will undergo further discussion throughout the current school year.

Video allegedly shows the scene from the shooting inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Miami-Dade school district also said it planned to deploy 100 additional unarmed security guards to elementary schools and K-8 centers as part of an ongoing effort to bolster school defenses following the Parkland school shooting.

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