PARKLAND, Fla. — Students around the United States are walking out of class to demand tougher gun laws in response to last week’s deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, but some schools are threatening them with harsh punishments.
The Needville Independent School District in Texas issued a warning Tuesday that anyone who participated in a walkout or other political protest would be suspended for three days.
“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved. All will be suspended for 3 days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline,” Superintendent Curtis Rhodes said in a statement posted on the Needville High School Facebook page.
Rhodes said the Houston-area district would not tolerate any protests or demonstrations during school hours.
“A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally. A disruption of the school will not be tolerated,” he said.
The letter was posted on the same day that a 14-year-old was arrested at Needville Junior High School and charged with making a terroristic threat.
Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland have been active in the week since the shooting — holding rallies, being interviewed by national media and organizing a bus trip to the Florida State Capitol to meet with lawmakers.
Students at other schools in Florida and across the United States have held rallies to show support.
A school district in Waukesha, Wisconsin, sent a letter to parents telling them that the school district is not involved in a walkout that is scheduled for March 14 and that teachers and students would not be excused if they participate.
“Participation in a walkout is disruptive and against school regulations, and will subject students to disciplinary measures,” Superintendent Todd Gray said in the letter.
In a follow-up statement on Wednesday, Gray said the the original letter was designed to let parents know that the walkout next month was planned by an outside group with no connection to the school.
“At no time have we said students cannot make a statement peacefully while staying in school,” Gray said, adding that he had not gotten requests to participate from any students or student groups.
“We acknowledge that individuals have a right to demonstrate to support a cause. Therefore, if parents wish to excuse their children from school to attend such an event or demonstration, that is their right,” he said.