Pasco schools ban bags, tighten security at after-school events

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Pasco County Schools began its ban on bags at middle and high school athletic games Friday.

The ban is part of the school system's change to security measures following violence at after-school activities.

Signs were posted on the fence to the football field and educators handed out flyers to visitors letting them know purses, duffel bags, and backpacks were banned. The district will only allow clear plastic and clear vinyl bags into games.

"It makes me kind of sad that it’s necessary, but it makes me feel safer for sure,” said Kelli Barragan, a parent whose son was playing in the band at Friday’s game at Wiregrass Ranch High School.

The school district made the change this year following two shootings after high school football games in other parts of Florida.

“This is kind of proactive. The minimum we can do with the resources that we have to cut out opportunities for violence,” said Linda Cobbe, the Pasco County Schools spokesperson.

Athletic booster parents set up a table to sell clear bags at the game, in case families wanted to bring in items and support the student-athletes.

“We had some pre-orders. We put it out on social media, and we sold a few already before the game,” said Jeni Wiseman, a parent with the Wiregrass Ranch Athletic Boosters.

Athletes can bring in their bags, and there’s an exception for medical and diaper bags. Those will just be searched.

“I think it’s a good idea if they can have metal detectors here. I think that would be a good idea too,” said parent Rosita Robles.

School officials know it will take a few extra minutes to leave belongings behind in the car, but parents said they feel it’s worth it.

“We need to be sure that everybody is safe, not only the kids but also the adults that are coming to enjoy the game,” said Robles.

The new rules apply to all middle and high school junior varsity and varsity sporting events. The school also won’t allow people to leave the games and come back in to increase safety.