Parent Letter - Student Protest 3/10/18

Dear District 66 Students and Families,

We are aware of plans on the national and local level for student walkouts starting next week, so I want to share with you our plans for maintaining student safety while protecting their constitutional rights.  Our priority is to maintain a safe and secure learning environment. At the same time, we also respect the constitutional right of our students to engage in protests that do not interfere with the learning process.   A great deal of thought and planning has gone into the way we will support our students who feel the need to protest by walking out of class.  Click here for details on how our staff will support our students in the event of a walkout on March 14.

A student walkout during the school day cannot be authorized by the administration and creates a safety concern, as well as a disruption to the learning process.  Many school districts have expressed concern with the outdoor aspect of any walkout. There are concerns associated with students milling about outside on March 14, including copycat actions, keeping students on campus, regulating parents and others who may want to enter campus before or during any walkout, etc. To that end, we are encouraging students intent on walking out of class to assemble in the gymnasium for safety purposes. If a student is intent on leaving the building, we have coordinated security with local law enforcement and have a plan for deploying administrators, teachers and other staff members to keep students from leaving a predetermined assembly area.

Students will not be disciplined for engaging in civil protests that do not interfere with the learning environment. However, leaving class without permission would be considered unexcused and is a violation of school rules that will result in disciplinary action.  Our approach to student discipline has always taken into consideration the student’s history, the severity of the event, and the impact the event had on others.

Some parents have asked if they can be on campus for the walkout. For campus safety, we are limiting participation to our students. Any adults who show up will be asked to stand in a designated area away from students and will not be allowed in the school at any time.  The designated area will be between the bell and east side of the gate to the Lakeview parking lot, which will be closed from 9:30-11:00 a.m. on March 14.

Obviously we are talking about this because of the history of school shootings in the United States, with a tipping point being the 17 victims in Parkland, FL.  As educators and parents, each school shooting can do damage to our collective outlook. To combat this and prevent future victims of school shootings, the teachers and administrators of District 66 are committed to listening to student voices.  We are committed to working with students and parents to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for each student, every day.

Thank you,

Tim Arnold, Ph.D.