SPHS Parent Information: Potential Walkout Situation, 3/14/18
FROM: Principal Janet Anderson SPHS
We are aware of the numerous school walkouts that are being planned in the upcoming weeks to protest school violence. This issue has been proactively addressed among our staff. We support students’ First Amendment rights, and when students’ free expression evolves into a walkout protest during school hours, school faculty and staff must balance supporting student voice and fulfilling their custodial duty toward students.
Students interested in protesting, consistent with the Women’s March organizers’ call to action, met and determined that the reason behind their walkout is to protest gun violence and to honor those who were affected by the February 14th school shooting in Florida. Other students have indicated that they may stage a different protest in support of the Second Amendment, but those students have not met with me.
The students who have shared their plans say that they will use brunch as an organizational/gathering time and leave campus at 10:00, prior to going to their third-period classes. They want to encourage everyone to be back at the seventeen-minute mark suggested by the Movement. As such, students who come to class prior to the thirty-minute mark will be designated on roll sheets as late. Students entering after that point will be truant. This has been shared with the student organizers.
We ask that you, as parents, help your students understand their own beliefs and be able to weigh risk-taking, or not, for those beliefs.
It is also essential for parents to understand that excusing students’ absences so they will avoid natural consequences actually disempowers their efforts and takes away their sense of self-efficacy. Adult “ownership” or co-opting a student-led concerted action likewise takes the power of voice away from young people.
Below are some of the guidelines we, as a school staff, are following if students are planning a walkout protest during school hours. Please read and discuss these with your child, as necessary.
Maintain a caring and understanding environment for all students, regardless of students’ views.
Students have a Constitutional right to demonstrate, as long as it is civil and not substantially disruptive.
We will respect students’ rights to participate, or not participate, in any walkout or demonstration.
Students who choose to walk out should be allowed to without verbal or physical restraint but are subject to consequences equal to the rules that are violated while protesting.
Teachers, as adults who have great influence, have a responsibility not to display favor toward some students’ points of view over others’.
We all have opinions related to national issues; however, our primary responsibility as educators in the workplace is to provide for the safety, well-being, and supervision of our students.
Students have a right to protest. We respect this right, while also maintaining a caring and safe environment for all students, regardless of their views.
We will fulfill our obligation as educators to provide supervision and instruction for students who choose to remain in the building and learn during a walkout.