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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 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.

But a group of students are reacting via a Facebook event.

"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.

Additionally, and are allowing backpacks, 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.”

Deborah August 31, 2012 at 10:17 PM
THANK GOD MY CHILD DOESNT GO TO WEST! MANY OF US PARENTS ARE AWARE THE PROBLEMS THAT WEST HAS. CALL IT SAFETY OR . . . ? I DONT BELIEVE THAT IT IS A POSITIVE MOVE. IT LOOKS TO ME LIKE A REACTION TO NOT HAVING A GRIP ON THE PROBLEM.
Johnny Paycheck August 31, 2012 at 10:40 PM
This is a really great start. Next make them all wear uniforms so they can focus on their studies...
Sarresa Hrenak September 01, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I graduated from this same highschool in '95..We weren't allowed to carry backpacks or purses at all..And we all graduated just fine..Some of us with honors even..All of you whiny parents are creating whiny kids..Knock it off already..So your kid has to carry some books..So what?It's called following the rules and instilling respect of the rules in your children..
DG September 01, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I remember when the only time you saw backpacks is when college kids had them. We didn't have them in school and we had to carry our books not only to class, but on the bus and for those who walked they had to walk home with books without a backpack in rain and snow. It really stunk on times when you were sick and had to bring a lot of homework home, but that's just the way it was.
superdavefive September 01, 2012 at 12:07 PM
I am confident that David Towers is making a change he believes is in the best interest of faculty and students. I personally never saw the need to carry a backpack during the day in high school. Prepare for the real world: find a way and adapt.
Marga Krumins September 01, 2012 at 04:33 PM
In the real world, people do carry backpacks or their equivalent to work. We didn't back when I was in HS, but then I also went to a smaller, less congested HS. I do have to wonder if the principal will be picking up the cost of broken laptops or IPads when they go spilling along with everything else in the midst of the 5 minute scramble?
@-;-'---- Rose September 01, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I once asked in a workshop,after stating my "problem", "Do I assign this problem to my son or myself?" I was told by the instructor..."Neither, you are creating a problem where none should exist." I learned from that..perhaps no problem exists here either...wait and see, then act.
Sarresa Hrenak September 01, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Form fitted laptop cases and IPad cases are still allowed..You would have known that had you read the article..
anna September 01, 2012 at 09:29 PM
You will to fine with out the backpack. I did in school.
Bridget September 01, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I think the Facebook kids need a little more English class. Their spelling is atrocious! And the punctuation is non-existent. He is a "principal" not a principle. These kids have lockers also. Let them stop at their lockers in between classes and pick up the supplies for the next class or two.
Johnny Paycheck September 02, 2012 at 04:30 AM
If high school is not in the "real" world, then please enlighten us as to which world it's in... Is the sky still blue on this planet?
Adam Kindred September 04, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I graduated from West in 2001 and I never had any problems with making it on time to any classes. It is very easy to make it from the gym, to the foreign language area (if it is still by the auditorium) and stop by the locker with plenty of time.
@-;-'---- Rose September 04, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I agree with Bridget about the punctuation problem to which texting has contributed.[I use some of the shortcuts myself...lol] The mnemonic I was taught about the spelling of principal/principle is "Al is our principal". Mnemonics are a fun way to enter "stuff" into our memory banks. Sorry to digress but Bridget got me started...it doesn't take much.

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