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Last updated: August 23. 2013 2:47PM - 91 Views

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LIMA — Without her book bag permitted in school, Lima Senior High School sophomore Kristen Nuckles said her school life is “unorganized.” It's why she was among 100 students to protest last week when told they would no longer be permitted at school.It's also why she was one of the first to applaud news Monday that book bags could come back with students when they return from spring break April 11. “I like the fact that we are going to have bags back now,” she said, saying she doesn't mind that someone will now check her bag each morning before entering school. “It is going to be another protection thing.”“We want our bags back so we have to deal with it,” added junior DarQuavious Brown, who helped organize last week's protest. “We have to meet in the middle. We have to give and take sometimes.”School officials banned book bags and large purses last week after the fifth bomb threat called into Lima schools in two months. The next morning, students protested outside the school. The protest came the same day police arrested Amanda K. Hunt for three of the calls. Paul Minor Jr. had previously been arrested for one of the calls. The ban, which remains this week, came as a result of law enforcement having to go through every book bag in the school after the last two threats. School was evacuated after each threat.“That took an enormous amount of time,” Assistant Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “The idea of not having book bags was a way to cut down on the sweep time and get them back into school faster.”Letters and phone calls went out Monday informing parents of the safety guidelines that are being put in place until further notice.All book bags, purses and athletic bags will be searched when students enter the building beginning April 11. No book bags or large purses are allowed this week. School administrators and campus protection officers will handle the “quick checks,” said Doug Kent, Performance Based School principal. Students can carry clear book bags throughout the day beginning April 11. Those bags will also be subject to a search at the beginning of the day. The clear bags cannot have any stickers, markings or other things that hinder visibility. Students said they have seen the clear bags at area stores. The school's DECA group is looking at possibly selling them in the future. All nonclear book bags must be stored in lockers during the school day. Athletic bags must be stored in coaches' areas. Despite the recent arrest, school officials believe the safety measures still need to be put in place. The guidelines will be re-evaluated after the school year ends.“We are not sure if it [bomb scare] is going to happen again. We are never sure,” Kent said. “We are thankful they caught this particular woman, but we are never sure that it is never going to happen again.”School administrators met with the student body Thursday and with a smaller group of students Friday. Kent said officials tried to honor what they heard from students as they came up with the guidelines.“The bottom line is we want to make sure the kids are safe in this building so they can get the quality education that they deserve,” he said. “And I think when it is all said and done the students and parents understand that.”Students said they were frustrated, too, with the repeated threats that caused them to walk from the building to other locations, make up class time, and eventually cost them their book bags.While she helped organize last week's protest, Junior Brookelyn Mason understands why the district took the threats so seriously and knows they only want to keep school safe for students. On Monday, she felt listened to.“I am really happy about it. I feel like our administration took what we said into consideration and they did something about it for us,” she said. “It just goes to show that our administration really does care about us and they want their students to be happy.”School officials have talked about metal detectors in the past, but Ackerman said it is not something they are interested in at this point. Having them would mean also getting the manpower to work not only during the school day, but also at school athletic and other events, she said. Research shows metal detectors are not always as effective as some might think, Ackerman said. “All it does is pose a challenge for people to try to find ways to bring in weapons and things,” she said, adding that the bag searches hopefully will deter students from bringing other things they shouldn't have in school, including knives, cigarettes and iPods.



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