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Superintendent: Bags could be checked at Highlands Middle after pepper spray incident

‘It may be that we will check backpacks on Monday. It may be we will do random bag checks on Monday,’ Dr. Diana Greene says

Highlands Middle School
Highlands Middle School (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students at Highlands Middle School could have their bags checked Monday, according to Dr. Diana Greene, superintendent of Duval County Public Schools.

Greene was asked whether there would be extra safety measures Monday at Highlands Middle after 41 students were exposed to pepper spray Friday in the school’s gymnasium.

“I believe our police department will give us direction about what we should do on Monday. Any time we have something on a campus, we look to put in more restrictive procedures. So it may be that we will check backpacks on Monday. It may be we will do random bag checks on Monday," Greene said during a news conference Friday. "But we will be at the school on Monday to ensure that we can start that week off and everyone can get back to the business of teaching and learning.”

The incident happened just after 1 p.m. Friday when it is believed multiple students released pepper spray during a seventh grade physical education class. Teachers and staff immediately evacuated from the gym to the football field.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Powers said those affected were transported to area hospitals out of an abundance of caution.

“All of them had very, very minor injuries," Powers said.

The Duval County School Police Department reviewed surveillance video and established multiple persons of interest, but Director Michael Edwards said some of those people were treated for exposure and then released.

“Based on the circumstances in this case, I think the best thing to do is meet with them on Monday,” Edwards said, but later added that might change as the investigation continues over the weekend.

According to the school administration, parents of students should have received a robocall explaining Friday’s situation.


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