Thursday, February 22, 2018

Schools prepare for school walkouts

In response to the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, students and educators are preparing for the school walkouts designed to protest gun violence in schools. Some school attorneys report their local boards, too, are weighing if and how they are going to accommodate student and employee participation (or non-participation) while minimizing school disruption from such planned events as

Additionally, some Illinois school districts were already working with walkouts this past week. School lawyers say districts must balance competing interests and various factors when determining how to respond to requests from students and educators to participate in such events, including student and employee free speech rights, the age and maturity of the students involved, maintaining order within schools, and providing a safe environment.

“If a significant number of students and educators are planning to participate in these walkouts, the district may determine that it is best to accommodate them by, for example, providing a safe environment for the walkouts (indoors or outdoors), not penalizing students and educators who participate, and providing supervision for students who choose not to participate,” said IASB Assistant General Counsel Maryam Brotine.

IASB recommends that districts consult with their board attorneys when planning appropriate responses.

For an in-depth discussion of student and employee First Amendment rights, see the NSBA’s new guide Coercion, Conscience, and the First Amendment:  A Legal Guide for Public Schools on the Regulation of Student and Employee Speech.

Note: This Blog post is solely for information purposes, not legal advice; IASB recommends that school boards consult their board attorneys on this topic.