Impose no discipline on Hinsdale students who walk out on March 14

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Dear Dr. Law, Mr. Walsh and Ms. Pokorny,

In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida students there immediately began organizing and demanding that their governmental representatives, both at the state and federal level, enact legislation to protect students in their schools.  Not everyone agrees on the nature of the legislation to be enacted, but surely everyone can agree that students need to be protected from these horrifying and repeated school shootings. 

In order to promote school safety legislation, students from Stoneman Douglas High School, with the help of the Youth Empower group of the Women’s March, organized a national walkout on March 14 where students can peacefully lend their voice to demand legislators across the country draft and enact legislation that will provide greater protection to students, teachers and staff in our nation’s schools.   The plan of the walkout is for students who choose to participate to walk out of their schools at 10:00 a.m. for 17 minutes to show solidarity with the Parkland students and to advocate for legislation to protect all students in schools across the country.  Our right to free speech is one of our most treasured and protected rights as Americans.

District 86, while acknowledging that students have a constitutional right to free speech, has chosen to deny the students permission to walkout on March 14.  Students have been warned that, if they walk out, they will be disciplined on a “case-by-case” basis.  No further details regarding the nature of the discipline or how this case-by-case discipline will be applied have been provided by administrators.  As such, the students are unable to weigh their constitutional rights versus the consequences of exercising those rights and parents are unable to properly advise their children. 

We are not asking the District for an endorsement, but merely to give students a voice and the ability to try to make a difference. The protest, with its clear goal being to make high schools a safer place, would not be without its educational merits. Protesting is a fundamental American belief, but few students have had the chance to participate or see one in action. Giving students the opportunity to be civic leaders prepares them for a lifetime of good citizenship

Consequently, we ask District 86 to reconsider its position of imposing discipline on students who walk out on March 14 and to not apply discipline to any student who walks out assuming that student violates no other school rules other than walking out of school in support of this protest.

If the District is unwilling to reconsider its position regarding discipline for participating in this protest, the District should apply the same discipline across the board to each student who walks out assuming that the student violates no other school rules other than walking out of school in support of this national protest.  The District should also clarify before March 14 the nature of the discipline that will be administered and the precise factors that will be considered in determining the discipline to be applied.

Thank you. 

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