This story has been updated.
Local school systems are weighing in on how they will handle student and teacher protests over gun violence.
There are a few walk outs planned, one as early as March 14. DeKalb County Schools won’t try to stop students if they leave class for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. to commemorate the 17 lives lost during a Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. This also applies to teachers.
Fulton County Schools has asked that the protests not interrupt the instructional day. Students who miss class may receive an unexcused absence, according to a letter sent to parents.
“Our District believes it has a responsibility to teach students how to express their beliefs in a peaceful, positive, and safe way that puts the spotlight on the message, not on the activity,” the letter said. “To that end, our schools will only allow students to express themselves if the activity does not interrupt daily operations, classroom instruction or become disruptive. We hope you will help us guide students as they consider their involvement in student protests or walk-out activities.”
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said APS will provides support to students who want to protest. For more on that story, click here.
Atlanta City Council member Natalyn Archibong said that the City Council on Feb. 19 approved a resolution establishing a planning committee “to provide recommendations on how the City of Atlanta can participate in the March for Our Lives movement to end gun violence in our schools.”
A national March for Our Lives rally is scheduled for Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018, a press release from Archibong’s office says.
“I introduced this resolution to provide a vehicle for the City of Atlanta to engage a group of community stakeholders to make recommendations for Atlanta’s role as a participant in this national movement,” she said in the press release. “The City of Atlanta has a rich and longstanding history of student activism including the Atlanta Student Movement that helped break down barriers of segregation in this city. This resolution shows that Atlanta and this city council fully supports the March for Our Lives movement.”
Here is the letter Fulton County Schools sent to parents:
Collectively as a nation, we have had heavy hearts over the past week. The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has left many of our children feeling helpless. Some want to channel those feelings into action by participating in upcoming national student protests, including walkouts to express their political and social views on school safety.
While Fulton County Schools believes in personal expression and First Amendment rights, we also must make sure those actions do not impact the instructional day.
Our District believes it has a responsibility to teach students how to express their beliefs in a peaceful, positive, and safe way that puts the spotlight on the message, not on the activity. To that end, our schools will only allow students to express themselves if the activity does not interrupt daily operations, classroom instruction or become disruptive.
We hope you will help us guide students as they consider their involvement in student protests or walk-out activities. Any student who misses a class may face an unexcused absence. Also, if a student becomes disruptive, he or she faces the consequences of disruption of school as defined by District Policy and the Fulton County Schools Student Code of Conduct.
We are developing a plan to engage students, parents, and our communities in discussions involving safety and security issues and will share that with you soon. We want structured and supervised activities where everyone can express themselves freely and safely.
Thank you for your continued partnership as we continually explore ways to keep our students safe and appropriately-engaged in instruction.
– Fulton County Schools