Students protest new backpack policy at Richmond High School meant to address safety

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RICHMOND, IND. (Aug. 25, 2015) – Richmond High School’s new backpack policy is bringing with it some backlash.

“What do we need? Backpacks!” about 50 high school students chanted Monday morning.

Eventually most students went to class, but the school suspended 12 who refused to leave their backpacks in their locker.

“Yeah, I was out there yesterday morning,” Taij Brown said, a senior. “But I was told I have to come in or I was going to get in trouble.”

The new policy at the high school prohibits backpacks in the classrooms, along with purses larger than a textbook, prompting students to return to their lockers between classes.

“Yesterday I was late for all my classes,” Jasmine Walsh said, a freshman. “And it was kind of hard for me.”

Todd Terrill, the new superintendent at Richmond Community Schools, implemented the change. For more than a decade Terrill has been certified as a school safety specialist.

Terrill said the move will help prevent students from carrying weapons into the classroom and enhance overall safety procedures in case of evacuations or other emergencies.

“It’s not going to keep everything out of our buildings,” he said. “And we don’t expect it to. But it’s just one more thing we can do to be more proactive.”

Terrill said he has implemented the policy at other districts where he’s worked, like Muncie. And a spokesperson for Indianapolis Public Schools said a majority of its high schools have similar policies in place.

The student council president is expected to address the school board tomorrow.

But Terrill said he’s pretty confident a majority of students won’t be turning their back to the new change for long.

“Kids are great,” he said. “They just want to be heard. And most of them you can reason with, and once you explain it, they get it. They don’t like it, but they understand.”

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