As we discussed in our previous alert, various actions and protests are being planned in the wake of the February 14 school shooting in Parkland Florida, including a National School Walkout planned for March 14. In light of the legal and practical considerations surrounding such events, we continue to advise that school districts work with your administrative teams to ensure you have a plan in place to address your district’s approach to these events.
The National School Board Association (NSBA) has recently prepared two resources that may assist administrators and board members with this process. To help identify issues public schools should consider as they prepare for planned student protests, NSBA has released a checklist on Navigating Student Walkouts and Mass Protests. This checklist, which is an appendix to NSBA’s recently released First Amendment guide, identifies various questions, issues, and potential responses to help school districts prepare for these activities in their schools and communities. NSBA’s recently released First Amendment Guide, “Coercion, Conscience and the First Amendment: A Legal Guide for Public Schools on the Regulation of Student and Employee Speech,” was also prepared to assist school board members in navigating First Amendment rights of students and staff members. These guidance documents may serve as useful tools to help guide your discussions surrounding how these activities may affect your school communities. We also continue to serve as a resource for school districts to help identify the specific legal considerations and best approaches for your schools.