Flint, MI—In response to a threat against the Accelerated Learning Academy (ALA), the Flint Schools Board of Education will be considering a backpack ban at the district’s secondary schools.
During a meeting on Jan. 18, 2023, the Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board unanimously passed a motion to discuss whether to disallow backpacks, unless they are clear, for ALA, Southwestern Classical Academy and Holmes STEM Middle School Academy students at its next governance subcommittee meeting.
According to Keiona Murphy, the FCS assistant superintendent, a telephone threat was made against ALA at about 9:30 pm on Jan. 17. As a result, the district canceled classes for ALA students the next day, with classes resuming on Jan. 19.
For the time being, Murphy said ALA students are still allowed to carry any backpacks to school, and the district is working with the Flint Police Department to investigate the incident.
Murphy explained that the district has added a “safety advocate,” or unarmed security guard at ALA, increasing the school’s number from three to four. A law enforcement liaison from the Flint Police Department is also devoting more time at ALA, she said.
“The school is safe,” Murphy told Flint Beat. “The staff feels safe when the scholars are here. These are things that we have to take seriously … so we are always going to defer on what is safe for the scholars.”
She added, “We want families to continue to do what they’ve been doing, which is [to communicate] with us if they suspect a student may be harmed or in danger.”
When asked for more information on the nature of the threat to ALA, Flint Police Detective Sergeant Tyrone Booth provided the following statement to Flint Beat: “We are aware of the incident and have launched an investigation. Due to this incident being under investigation, we can not at this time provide further details.”
Currently, the district has roughly 3,000 students, and Murphy said the administration is considering purchasing clear backpacks for all scholars, though the estimated cost is not available at this time.