TPS Board member, advocate express concern over McLain High School’s new ‘clear backpack policy’

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa Public School board member, who represents McLain High School, is expressing concerns over the clear backpack policy for the school. Board member Jennettie Marshall said the rule singles out McLain.

The rule comes after 17-year-old Terron Yarbrough was killed outside the school’s homecoming football game. His peers and teachers are still healing. Which is why Marshall said she is upset over the new rule.

“The only thing I see is the disparity in treatment of students of color, our black and brown students, students of north Tulsa,” she said.

McLain High School made the decision last week that students will be required to wear clear backpacks.

Marshall said she understands security measures, but guns have been issues at other schools throughout the district.

“We need to take into consideration when making a policy like that it would of been equitable to make a policy like that for the district since we’ve had incidents like that in all of our schools,” Marshall said.

She said this policy singles out McLain when the students need support.

“That casts the shadow of labels and labeling is one of the key ingredients to the school-to-prison pipeline,” she said.

Darryl Bright with Citizens United for a Better Education System said a clear backpack is not a solution to end crime.

“It’s not just the issue of bad behavior. It has to deal with what the district not addressing teaching and learning and the leadership in the school and the leadership at the top. These children are in the minority the majority of students should not be punished. This is not prison,” Bright said.

FOX23 received the following statement from Tulsa Public Schools about the new policy:

“While we work closely with schools across our district to keep students and team members safe, every school has the flexibility to make decisions about what best meets the needs of their school communities. As part of their continued work on keeping their community safe, the team at McLain High School has implemented a new clear backpack policy similar to the requirements you might experience at large public events such as concerts and football games. All of our school teams continuously assess safety practices and protocols, and we stand ready to support school teams with their site-specific safety plans.”