11:57 AM: One of this week’s big stories will be what happens on Wednesday, one month after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida. Students across the nation are planning walkouts in memory of the 17 people killed there, and to support gun-law reform. So far, we’ve heard from students at three area schools – Madison Middle School, Denny Middle School, and White Center’s Evergreen High School. This past Friday evening, some local students gathered at West Seattle Art Nest to make signs:
The walkouts are planned for 10 am Wednesday – local time, whatever the time zone – and planned to last 17 minutes. The Seattle Public Schools board is on record saying it encourages students to stay on campus if they choose to take part in a walkout; we are asking Highline Public Schools (Evergreen is in that district) if it has an official stance.
ADDED MONDAY EVENING: We’ve also heard from a Louisa Boren STEM K-8 student about a walkout plan there. Meantime, Highline tells us superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield sent students a letter last week, which included this:
… Some of you may be considering joining students in other districts and states in a 17-minute walkout on March 14 or in other actions to send a message to adults in power. If you are, I applaud you for taking action on an issue important to you. This is an opportunity for you to learn what it means to be involved in the civic and political life of your community and your world. An important part of that learning is understanding the laws and policies that apply to you if you should choose to participate in a walkout during the school day.
You have a constitutional right to free speech in school as well as outside of school. If there is a walkout planned at your school, you are free to participate or not to participate. If you choose to participate, you need to know that school district policy requires you to be in class or be counted absent. District policy is “the law” in our schools, and as educators we are obligated to follow it. If you are absent from a class period, you will receive an unexcused absence unless your parent or guardian contacts the school office to excuse it.
ADDED TUESDAY EVENING: A bit more information – here’s information on the Madison PTSA website; here’s information from a Chief Sealth IHS newsletter. (added) Police will be standing by at schools where walkouts are planned, Lt. Ron Smith from the Southwest Precinct confirmed. And while we still haven’t heard from anyone at West Seattle High School, Lt. Smith says his understanding is that WSHS is participating too.