Update: Fulton County Schools said they will adapt middle and high school students' schedules to provide opportunities to allow students to participate in March 14 walkout demonstrations.
“This is a learning opportunity for our students,” said Superintendent Jeff Rose. “The District will provide support to schools, ensuring a supervised environment. We will allow students to respectfully express their support for those impacted by the Parkland, Florida shooting.”
Original story follows below.
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — There are a series of student-organized school walkouts throughout March and April, and as 11Alive found out whether students will be disciplined or not depends on the school district.
The peaceful protests are in reaction to a deadly mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school earlier this month.
In Fulton County, parents have been told to warn their students of district policies regarding absences and disruptions ahead of the planned walkouts. 11Alive contacted 16 districts about how they plan to handle protests.
In a letter to parents, Fulton County's superintendent said the district only allows students to "express themselves if the activity does not interrupt daily operations, classroom instruction or become disruptive."
The walkout would fall into the category of disruption. Students who do participate could be subject to consequences and discipline.
11Alive's Joe Henke spoke to Tracy Tavani, who is a parent to two students in Fulton County and a 1995 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Her nephew survived the Feb. 14 shooting. She said when she got the letter from the superintendent, she was in disbelief.
"I read it and was I frustrated and mad," she told 11Alive.
She explained she thinks the threat of an unexcused absence discourages students from walking out. But if they believe strongly in the peaceful protest, they should follow through and leave class. However, she believes the school district could find a way to compromise and incorporate the walkouts into the school day.
"I think it should just be a school wide event to happen," she said. "It is 17 minutes. It could be an assembly. All the kids walk out of school. It is a safe, peaceful protest."
A GUIDE TO THE WALKOUTS
The first is #ENOUGH, being organized in conjunction with the Women's March EMPOWER branch on March 14 at 10 a.m.. That date marks one month since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This organizers are encouraging everyone in the school to walkout for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 lives lost in the shooting.
A Decatur mom is involved in the planning and said the point is to, "to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."
On March 24, the Parkland survivors are organizing a #March4OurLives rally in Washington D.C. where students and their supporters will take to the streets of the nation's capitol to "demand that their lives and safety become a priority that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today," according to their website.
Those not in Washington are encouraged to march in their own communities.
On April 20 there will be an organized walkout called the National School Walkout movement. This date is the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. The organizers are encouraging students to "Walk out of school, wear orange and protest online and in your communities."