Milpitas School District Updates Policy on Student Walkout

After saying Monday that they would not condone any student walkouts, Milpitas Unified School District officials issued an updated statement Tuesday regarding what they will allow students to do during Wednesday's nationwide protests calling for gun reform legislation.

Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said the school district stands by their students in giving voice to their concerns and desires to support those who died in the Marjory Douglas High School tragedy in Florida and others before it.

According to the superintendent, each principal in the district has worked with their staff to ensure that students "have an opportunity for civil discourse and to demonstrate their solidarity in a safe school environment."

The district's middle and high school administrative teams have talked with their students about this "teachable moment" and suggested alternatives to leaving campus, Jordan said.

Most schools in the district will still substitute the walkout for a moment of silence at 10 a.m., the designated time to come together across the country, for up to 17 minutes, according to Jordan.

Schools may also hold class discussions and counselors will be available for students who choose to share their feelings.

Principal Francis Rojas of Milpitas High School told the superintendent that some of his students have voiced a desire to take their walkout from campus to the Milpitas Police Department a few blocks away. The district is permitting this and has assigned staff and administrators to work with police to "supervise those who participate," Jordan said.

"While district staff does not condone the walkout, we stand in solidarity with ALL students, locally and nationwide, as we strive together for a thriving school and community culture," Jordan said in her updated statement.

On Monday, Jordan issued an original statement stating that the district was considering student safety first and would not condone students walking out on Wednesday and April 20, the two dates planned for nationwide actions to protest gun violence.

The superintendent said all of those who left campus would be given an unexcused absence, and that the consequences would be administered per the student's specific school handbook.

"Students do have a free speech right and may express their political views if it does not present a disruption to the learning environment," Jordan said in her first message. "Leaving campus during school hours to participate in political activity is not a safe and responsible way to work for change."

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