In light of the recent school shooting in Florida, students across the country are planning walkouts to promote passing stricter gun control laws. Now, school administrators have started letting kids know what the consequences are if they choose to participate in those protests.
The North East Independent School District sent a letter home with students on Thursday letting them know that kids who participated in any of those protests will get unexcused absences for the classes they miss.
"They, of course, can exercise any rights outside of the regular school day. When they're in our school, during school hours, we need to make sure that they're safe. We have closed campuses for a reason, and this isn't going to be an exception," said Aubrey Chancellor, an NEISD spokesperson.
The youth branch of the Women's March on Washington is organizing a nationwide student walkout for March 14. Schools across the country are preemptively planning their disciplinary response for students who choose to participate. The superintendent of Needville ISD, 40 miles southwest of Houston, said that students who walked out would receive a three-day suspension.
San Antonio attorney Steven Gilmore says that he has already offered pro bono services for any students who get suspended or expelled for participating in the walkout.
"When a school does treat an absence differently, like trying to impose a suspension or expulsion on a student or even detention for participating in a demonstration for creating that absence, that means the school is making a content-based discriminatory choice based on the message behind the absence,” Gilmore explained. “It's based on the content of the speech the child is engaging in, and that's what they're not allowed to do.”
Gilmore wants to emphasize that a school isn't doing anything wrong by giving an unexcused absence if a student doesn't come to class for whatever reason.
There’s been mixed reaction to NEISD's stance on the walkouts. One student wrote KENS 5 a letter saying that school violence has gotten out of control, even pointing out that two students were arrested at the Academy of Creative Education, an NEISD campus, this week for bringing a gun and drugs to school.