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Austin-East modifies safety protocols for upcoming school year

Strict safety measures were put into place last semester after multiple students died at the hands of gun violence

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Changes have been made to the safety protocols in place for Austin-East Magnet High School students.

In an email sent to Austin-East families, Principal Tammi Campbell announced that students are no longer required to have clear backpacks and that students will not undergo daily searches upon entry. 

Spanish Version: Austin-East modifica protocolos de seguridad para nuevo año escolar

However, students will be expected to adhere to random searches at entry and on campus as deemed necessary by school administration per Knox County Board of Education policy J-201. 

"The Security protocols implemented for students last spring of mandatory clear backpacks, and daily searches for every student upon entry were precautionary measures taken by KCS and school administration," Principal Campbell said in the email.

In addition to these precautionary measures, Austin-East added more security cameras to campus, installed a door alarm system that notifies for unauthorized entry or exit and increased law enforcement presence outside the campus and in the community around arrival and dismissal times. 

The clear bag policy was announced in February 2021 after three Austin-East students lost their lives due to gun violence in the span of one month. 

The following month, Anthony Thompson Jr. was killed in an officer-involved shooting on campus. 

After Thompson's death, it was announced that Austin-East students would have to undergo security checks every time they entered the building. 

"As a school, we are committed to improving conditions, interactions and relations with our school security using input and ideas from our students and families," Principal Campbell said in the email. "As we continue to heal, we appreciate the love and support from community, and are hopeful and excited for a new school year."

Austin-East students will return back to school on August 9.