COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho – Students throughout the Inland Northwest have planned walkouts following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, leaving school officials searching for ways to address the protests.
High school students from the Coeur d’Alene School District have indicated that they plan to participate in the National School Walkout on Mar. 14 at 10 a.m.
On Wednesday, Feb. 21, about 100 students at Cheney High School walked out of class to protest gun violence in schools. The demonstration lasted for more than an hour. School administrators knew about the walkout ahead of time and did not discipline students for participating.
The National School Walkout to protest gun violence is taking place at hundreds of locations throughout the U.S. Some schools have vowed not to support the protest, according to USA Today.
At a Coeur D’Alene Public Schools board meeting on Monday, superintendent Stan Olson said the district recognizes the students’ rights to peaceful assembly and free expression, and to advocate for causes that are important to them.
District and school administrators are working with organizers and teachers to ensure that protests are safe and respect the views of every member of the school’s community, Olson said.
“In addition, it is important to know that disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable. Inappropriate behavior that threatens school safety will be handled immediately and firmly in accordance with our policies and student code of conduct,” he added.
Students will not face disciplinary action for peacefully participating in the walkout, Olson said. They are expected to promptly return to class for the rest of the day and any student who fails to return will be marked absent.
According to Olson, the district also asks family or community members to refrain from visiting schools during the walkout.
“Our school staff and School Resource Officers will need to focus on supervising the student activities, while teachers also continue with classroom instruction. Again, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” he said.
Olson also encouraged students and their families to discuss the topic, as it can serve as a “valuable lesson on civic engagement and constitutional rights” and an opportunity for students to connect their education to life experiences.
“We love the passion of our students as they learn about the world and we recognize that student advocacy is a part of the learning process,” Olson said.