Waukesha West Backpack Ban Irritates Students, Parents
But Waukesha West High School administration is changing the policy for safety and to keep contraband items from school.
Students at Waukesha West High School are unhappy that the school’s forcing them to keep their backpacks and purses in their locker during the school day.
The new policy, which goes into effect the school year beginning Tuesday, allows students to carry a small pencil case and a form-fitting laptop or iPad case for electronic devices, according to a letter to parents and students from Principal David Towers.
“I understand this may initially be viewed as an inconvenience for our students, but after careful consideration with our students’ safety and security being our first priority, this is the policy that will be enforced,” Towers wrote in an Aug. 17 letter. “We also recognize that special accommodations may need to be made, and those will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”
Patch has left Towers a voicemail and an email seeking additional information. Towers told Fox6 the changes were made for safety and for contraband.
"Hey who ever's briliant idea this was it's stupid yeah I'm sure I want to run from class to class with 4 textbooks, 6 binders, 6 notebooks and anything else I need. Awesome idea there I think y'all forgot that if we trip and fall it's gunna hurt waaay more than tripping and falling with a backpack," wrote one student.
"I applaude Mr.Towers for firmly standing with his decision as a principle, especially when he has a student body plus parents rebelling... but there's a certain point where he needs to sympathize with the impact that this will have on us as students. By just allowing us two more minutes of passing time most of us would probably suffice without having a backpack," wrote another student.
Waukesha West senior Abbie Chobot said her biggest concern is carrying all of her books throughout the school and being on time for class. Some students have passed rumors about protesting the rule, but she’s unsure if the students will actually take action on Tuesday.
Students have five minutes between periods to use their lockers and change classes in the large building.
“A lot of kids are really unhappy … Kids are just concerned that if we are all late to class or if it doesn’t work out, are we just going to have to stick this rule out?” Abbie said.
The principal has valid concerns, Abbie said, but she thinks they could find a better, different solution.
“It is administration’s job but the students would have liked to have more of a voice,” Abbie said.
Jill Vendette, a parent of three Waukesha West High School students, is upset with the policy change for several reasons. She doesn’t feel it’s a safety issue because the students will still have to put their books someplace. Vendette is also concerned about thefts of expensive equipment, such as phones or calculators.
But what has her frustrated that it was a change done only at Waukesha West by administration. Parents weren’t given the opportunity for input into the policy change, she said.
“The parents want answers,” Vendette said. “… (Towers) will not budge.”
Vendette feels it’s not about safety because the backpacks are allowed into the building but the bags have to stay in the locker. If it’s weapons Waukesha West is concerned with, she said, the weapons can still be concealed in the backpack.
Vendette believes the policy is designed to give school officials a gateway to search students for drugs.
“I think this is giving them right to search lockers without probable cause,” Vendette said.
Vendette said she feels for a young girl who is going to have to get special permission to go to her teacher when she has to go to the bathroom. That girl will have to explain why she has to go to her locker before heading to the bathroom, she said.
“That is also putting a target on a girl’s back,” Vendette said. “They already have it tough enough.”
Jill Korsmo daughter is a senior at Waukesha West and regularly has her backpack organized for classes. Korsmo’s concerned about how that could disrupt her daughter’s school day.
But beyond that, Korsmo also took issue with administration not allowing parents to give feedback on the changes.
“I think it is the principle of the whole thing,” Korsmo said. “There is just absolutely no leeway. … I don’t think parents would be as upset if it was a district-wide thing.”