Editor’s Note: This story has been rewritten to include clarifications by Spokane Public Schools.
SPOKANE, Wash. – Sacajawea Middle School Principal Jeremy Ochse has planned a school assembly for Wednesday March 14 to allow students the opportunity to speak their minds and honor the victims of the Parkland School shooting.
The assembly was planned after concerns were raised that students would be unable to participate in a planned walkout on Wednesday due to school policy.
School policy states the students cannot leave campus unless they are signed out by a parent. Students expressed frustration over the policy because the planned protest would be within 50 feet of the school entrance.
There was also confusion over the policy in relation to the protest. Spokane Public Schools Spokesman Kevin Morrison said parents must sign students out of class, but do not necessarily have to stay with students after they are signed out. Morrison said parents are responsible for children after they are signed out.
Morrison said the Wednesday assembly is supposed to be a way to allow students the opportunity to speak their voice, while doing so in a safe environment.
The assembly will be 17 minutes long and feature 17 speakers, to honor the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Morrison said a variety of people, including students, will be speakers. Each speaker will have one minute to talk.
There will also be t-shirts and posters that say “17 Acts of Kindness” – a motto being used to promote kindness and compassion. Morrison said the school will also re-emphasize their “See It, Say It” program; an anonymous tip line students can use to report anything of concern.
Morrison also added the assembly is not mandatory and no assembly held by SPS is mandatory. If a student does not wish to attend the assembly, they will be allowed to sit out and be monitored by a faculty or staff member somewhere else on campus.