Port Arthur ISD explains new backpack policy for 2023-24 school year

Published 10:31 am Friday, July 28, 2023

The Port Arthur Independent School District is only allowing clear backpacks for the 2023-24 school year; whereas previously, clear and mesh backpacks were acceptable.

The District has also changed the start time for students attending Memorial 9 and Memorial 10-12. Students will begin their school day at 7:10 a.m.

“School personnel responsible for the “a.m.” safety and security screenings have a very short window to search and scan the backpacks of nearly 500 students enrolled at Memorial 9; nearly 400 students enrolled at Wilson Early College High School; and nearly 1,300 students enrolled at Memorial 10-12,” a District statement read. “These searches are being conducted with limited administrative and security personnel who report to work prior to 7 a.m.”

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In the past, mesh backpacks were designed with separations between the netting that allowed anyone to view its contents quickly. School leader said mesh backpacks are now being produced with very tight netting, making it nearly impossible to see what’s inside.

School personnel, in and outside of the classroom, must be able to see the inside of students’ backpacks at any time during the instructional day without reducing instructional time.

“Additionally, clear backpacks may further promote an atmosphere of acceptance and protection at our schools,” a District statement read. “We take great pride in every step taken to provide a safe and academically focused learning environment at our schools. Therefore, we endeavor to take full advantage of opportunities to strengthen existing safety and security protocols when those opportunities align with the expectations of the superintendent and the school board.”

The adjustment is part of the district’s comprehensive safety and security plan. It is also based on the identified needs of schools at this time.

Parents will receive notification via district and school websites, social media and regular mail, as part of our annual Back-to-School updates.