Education

‘Very controversial’ policy targets Beaufort Co. middle and high school sports fans

Are Beaufort County schools safe? Here’s what security measures they have in place

After the Parkland school shooting, many parents have wondered if their kid's school is prepared. Here's a breakdown of what security measures are already in place within the Beaufort County School District.
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After the Parkland school shooting, many parents have wondered if their kid's school is prepared. Here's a breakdown of what security measures are already in place within the Beaufort County School District.

Start packing the Ziplocs: Beaufort County School District is looking to implement a clear-bag policy at all middle and high school sporting events starting this school year.

The proposed policy, which was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Education’s operations committee, would allow one clear bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches and a clutch or wallet no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches per guest. Non-clear medical bags would be allowed after they are searched.

District Chief Operations Officer Robert Oetting said the policy was requested by high school athletic directors, who cited safety concerns at games.

The clear-bag policy has been adopted by several college athletic conferences and professional sports in recent years, following terrorist attacks at sporting events, concerts and campuses across the globe. The University of South Carolina and Clemson both have clear-bag policies per SEC and ACC rules, as does the RBC Heritage present by Boeing PGA Tour golf tournament.

“More and more high schools throughout the state are going to this,” Oetting said. “It is becoming more and more common.”

However, board member William Smith, whose district includes St. Helena and Lady’s Island, raised questions about the challenges a clear-bag policy might present for some students and parents.

“They don’t have to have clear bookbags in school,” Smith said. “So if we do clear bookbags for these facilities, then we need to do clear bookbags for all facilities at all times. It’s very controversial, because I don’t know what little Johnny or what little Bonnie’s parents can afford.”

The clear-bag policy is an administrative regulation, meaning that Superintendent Frank Rodriguez can implement the policy without board approval, as long as the board is notified.

The operations committee decided to postpone further discussion of the policy until its next committee meeting, when district security officer David Grissom can give them a more detailed breakdown of the policy. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 14.

Rachel Jones covers education for the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has worked for the Daily Tar Heel and Charlotte Observer. Rachel grew up in Ayden, NC, surrounded by teachers.
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