There were calls for see-through backpacks in schools long before Tuesday’s shooting in Erie, Pennsylvania.
According to the Associated Press, a student was injured when multiple shots were fired inside the Erie High School building shortly after 9:20 a.m. The injured student was taken to hospital and is believed to be in stable condition.
Authorities were looking for “a known person of interest who fled the building”, says Erie Public Schools. No other information has been released on the person sought.
Erie Police Department deputy chief Mike Nolan told reporters earlier that it was unclear how many shots were fired and declined to comment on the type of firearm involved and whether it had been recovered.
Police said they secured the high school and asked people to avoid the area, the city said in a Twitter post. Students were sent class by class about an hour after the shooting, officials said.
The school district said there would be no school for Erie High School students for the rest of the week, with the annual spring break to be observed next week. Officials said counselors would be available this afternoon for students, staff and parents at the Erie Center for Arts and Technology, an adult education school.
“We are devastated and angered by this senseless tragedy, and we all hope for the full and speedy recovery of the student involved,” Superintendent Brian Polito said in a statement.
On Monday, Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, introduced House Bill 2477, which would give schools until Jan. 1 to adopt a policy or change its existing policy to mandate the use of backpacks. transparency in colleges and high schools. As proposed, there would be exceptions for medically necessary supplies and small pouches or purses in a backpack that would need to be inspected.
“See-through bag policies have been implemented nationwide at stadiums and event venues that provide a safe environment for the public while allowing exceptions for medically necessary supplies,” Cruz wrote in his legislative memorandum. “Many school districts across the country have followed suit by adopting clear backpack policies as part of their school safety strategy. Recently, schools in Harrisburg, Altoona, and my own district established clear backpack requirements. My legislation would implement this statewide by requiring the board of trustees of each educational entity in Pennsylvania to develop and implement a clear backpack policy for middle and high schools in their jurisdictions.
House Bill 2477 is unlikely to become law. It has been referred to the House Education Committee, where around 200 bills await consideration. There are also doubts about the cost and effectiveness of using transparent backpacks. A California school spent about $442,000 on 46,000 clear backs for students in December, an expense not mentioned in Cruz’s proposed legislation.
The use of see-through backpacks is also not mentioned in the state’s 2018 School Safety Report. The 66-page document offered several recommendations to strengthen school security, including spending more money on cameras, locked doors, metal detectors and school hallways that promote security and increase the use of school resource officers. The task force also recommended devoting more time and attention to improving student mental health.
“Keeping our children safe at school requires a multi-pronged effort from the entire community, including educators, parents, law enforcement and students,” Cruz wrote. “By taking a holistic approach to addressing school safety, we can create safe environments where learning can be prioritized. Weapon identification and confiscation measures, including metal detectors and single entry points, can be helpful but do not on their own deter school violence. A simple way to bridge the safety gap is to use see-through backpacks that allow school officials to grab dangerous objects as students enter and move around the school building.