Thursday, March 1st was a National Student Day of Action in which students around the country organized demonstrations protesting education budget cuts, educational inequality, and advocating for quality and affordable education for all.
Students at Northwestern High School in Prince George‚s County Maryland planned a walkout and rally as part of the National Student Day of Action. Over 300 students planned to walk out to protest unsanitary conditions in their school, enormous class sizes, cuts to the ESOL program, and denial of promised pay raises for their teachers. The students also were asking for more teacher/parent/student input in the curriculum and demanding an apology for a group of Filipino teachers who were fired and deported after not having their work visas renewed.
The Administration at Northwestern discovered the walkout plan early in the day by trolling Twitter and put the school on lockdown. Police blocked the doors and canine units waited in the school's parking lot. They held student leaders in the Principal‚s office all day, threatened them with expulsion, and at the end of the day suspended four students for 5 days requiring that when they return their parents must accompany them to classes all day.
Northwestern is a high school where a majority of the students are Black and Latino. The student organizers' mission was to walk out for a better school and a better education. Instead the Administration violated their civil liberties, squashed these students' free speech, and punished them for wanting to improve the school environment for themselves and their teachers. Instead of having a dialogue with students, the Administration at this school chose to make an example of several students and punish them harshly knowing this could affect these students ability to get into college.
We ask you to stand in solidarity with the students at Northwestern. We cannot let school officials succeed in punishing them for wanting changes to their school and quality education. Support these students by signing this petition and demanding that their suspensions be revoked and removed from their permanent record.