We join with the education community in feeling shocked and saddened over recent events involving gun violence, including the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We have no doubt that you have been engaging in challenging conversations with your students, staff, parents, and community members over the impact of these events on your school community. Among the various responses contemplated throughout the country, a National School Walkout has been planned for March 14 at 10:00 a.m. to call for congressional action to address gun violence.
School districts may receive inquiries about participation in this event. Given the legal and practical considerations raised by student and staff participation in this type of event, we encourage school districts to work with your administrative teams now in order to ensure you have a plan in place to address your district’s approach to this event. While practical considerations such as the age of your students, interest in participation, and physical space must be considered, school districts must also consider the legal contours of this type of event. Student and employee participation, whether as a school community or as individuals, raises legal questions involving the rights of students and employees to participate, and decline to participate, in such an activity, which must be balanced with the district’s need to ensure proper student supervision and minimize disruption. To best address and be prepared for these issues, we recommend school administrators start discussing this event as a team and determine the approach that is most appropriate for your school community.