Proposal to keep backpacks out of classrooms has many upset

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WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Some parents, students and school administrators aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a proposed change about students carrying backpacks in their classrooms.

Parents say it began with a meeting between students and administrators at Washington and Lee High School.

Then, a letter went out to parents about students carrying backpacks or purses in classrooms and Christal Johnson, a mother, grew concerned.

Parents believe the principal wants to eliminate backpacks and purses in the classroom and require students to keep them in school lockers.

“When I went here there wasn’t even enough lockers,” former student D.J. Payne said. “Not everybody has one and people share, so that’s less space, and you have to pay.”

Christal Johnson said that’s just one of the many concerns she has heard from students and parents about the proposal.

“Students that don’t have lockers are forced to get one and you have to pay for them,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that she too encourages safety, but doesn’t agree that her daughter can’t even carry a clutch purse. “My daughter has anxiety attacks and she needs to have her inhaler with her at all times.”

Westmoreland Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Lowry spoke with CBS 6 News about the proposed changes.  She said it’s all a matter of safety.

“Anything that would come into the school and be a danger would most likely be in a back pack,” Lowry said. “This would help us be preventive and not wait until some horrible incident and saying what we would do.”

Lowry said there has been a lot of misinformation given out about the proposal. She said that’s why they set a public meeting at the high school for Wednesday evening to talk about it with parents and students.

“I promise we are willing to get input and we are going to be willing to work out a compromise with everyone. There will be no outright ban on back packs. We will try to do something that’s agreeable to everyone,” Lowry said.

The superintendent said after hearing feedback from the community, she will make a decision on this in about a week.

If parents don’t agree and want to appeal, the next step would be to carry the issue to the school board.

CBS 6 News will bring you the latest developments as they become available.