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Richland School District addresses possibility of student walkout

Here is information from the Richland School District regarding the possibility of student walkouts on March 14 to protest school gun violence:

“Students in the Richland School District and across the nation have the right to attend schools that are safe and secure,” says Superintendent Rick Schulte. “They have the right to attend school free from fear and worry about gun violence. And they have the right to raise this serious issue with constructive actions and dialogue.”

  1. RSD schools are not organizing walkout events so we don’t know at this point (March 12) if any walkouts will happen.
  2. RSD high school administrators have been having ongoing and open communication about these issues with student leaders.
  3. Any student has the Constitutional right to exercise free speech and this includes walking out of a classroom to protest school gun violence.***
  4. If any students walk out of class, school administrators will do everything possible to ensure their safety; this includes calling local police for assistance.
  5. Local police have already been contacted to give them a heads up about a possible walkout on March 14.
  6. Students who participate in a walkout event will be marked ‘unverified’ for all missed classes that occur during the timeline of the event…..
  • Within three days, parents can call and excuse a student, and the ‘unverified’ will be changed to ‘excused.’
  • Students will be allowed reasonable accommodations to make up work, exams, labs, etc., missed during the event.

***Under the U.S. Supreme Court's Goss vs. Lopez decision affirming student free speech rights, school districts are permitted to limit the time and place of student speech in order to prevent disruption of classroom instruction. In the case of a student walkout on March 14 (or any other time for any purpose or point of view), there may be other students who remain in class and who want their education to continue without disruption. These students also have a right to classroom instruction unaffected by disruption.

In addition, school districts must be content-neutral when it comes to supporting students’ free speech rights. This means that whatever accommodations we make for student protests or actions with which we agree, we must make those same accommodations for protests with which we disagree.