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South Heart Public School prohibits backpacks

Beginning this month, students in grades seven through 12 at South Heart Public School will no longer be allowed to carry backpacks to and from classes, according to the school newsletter, the Cougar Connection.

"I think it's a good idea," said Misty Christianson, seventh grader at South Heart Public School. "People could bring weapons and stuff like that."

"Students' safety is our number one goal," said Riley Mattson, SHPS superintendent. "By not allowing backpacks in the classroom, we feel we are creating a safer and more secure environment."

SHPS Principal Guy Fridley said besides concerns about concealment, having backpacks on the floor in classrooms presents a falls, trips and slips hazard.

"We are just trying to be proactive," Fridley said. "There are many schools in the state and around the country that already have this rule in place."

Mattson added the school hasn't had any incidents yet, but after attending conferences and speaking with other school officials he and Principal Fridley felt the rule was necessary.

"Students can still bring their backpacks to and from home," Mattson said. "But now when they enter the school the backpacks will have to be stored in the student's locker or on the shelves provided."

Mattson said students have four minutes between classes.

"Which is plenty of time for students to stop by their lockers and exchange books before their next class," Mattson said.

Richardton High School Superintendent Brent Bautz and Dickinson High School Principal Ron Dockter said neither of their schools have a rule regarding where backpacks are allowed at this time, though in the student handbook DHS does reserve the right to search and seize personal property including handbags, wallets, backpacks, and automobiles if they have reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

Calls to Bowman County High School Superintendent Tony Duletski, Killdeer Public School Superintendent Gary Wilz and Belfield High School were not returned Friday.