While a nationwide school walkout is planned for March 14, students in Texas could face suspended if they decide to join this or any protests against gun violence.
One superintendent in Needville Independent School District located in Fort Bend County, right outside Houston, sent a letter to families whose children attend this district’s schools warning them that students who partake in any protests against gun violence and gun laws will be suspended for three days, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida more than two weeks ago, which left 17 people dead, many students nationwide have walked out of school in a show of solidarity and initiate a call to action.
But Superintendent Curtis Rhodes said in a statement that while the Needville Independent School District is “very sensitive” to “violence in schools,” it will punish students who decide to join protests and demonstrations during school hours. According to The Hill, Rhodes believes “school is a place to learn and grow ‘educationally, emotionally and morally'” and therefore, will not “tolerate disruptions.”
“Please be advised that the Needville ISD will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness!!” Rhodes said. “Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for 3 days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved. All will be suspended for 3 days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline.”
While Rhodes is planning on punishing students protesting gun violence, many universities showed support to applicants in high school who are participating in peaceful protests. Individual admissions officials took to Twitter to let students know that joining such demonstrations wouldn’t “affect their college acceptance decisions,” according to Huffington Post.
“We always encourage students to undertake whatever course of action in life is most meaningful to, and consistent with, their own principles, and not prioritize how it might impact their college applications,” Stu Schmill, the dean of admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said.
Other universities also tweeted their support:
HS students are worried that getting suspended for peacefully protesting against gun violence may hurt chances to get into college. Not @WPI. WPI believes students should hold fast to their values & principles. We review our applicants with an eye towards who they are as people.
— WPI (@WPI) February 23, 2018
UConn would like to assure students who have applied or been admitted to the University that disciplinary action associated with participation in peaceful protests will not affect your admission decision in any way.
— UConn (@UConn) February 24, 2018
Students: If you participate in peaceful protests against gun violence and receive school discipline for walking out, staging your protest, etc., please rest assured that you can report it to UMass Amherst, and we won’t hold it against you. #ParklandStudentsSpeak
— UMass Admissions (@UMassAmherstUA) February 22, 2018
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas tweeted a reminder to Rhodes last week that “school administrators are barred from censoring political speech and that punishing students ‘more harshly’ for protesting is illegal,” according to Huffington Post.
A reminder to Superintendent #CurtisRhodes and the administration of #NeedvilleISD: The Constitution protects students when they speak or express political or social views in school, so long as their speech is not disruptive. /1 pic.twitter.com/eRSFQ6AWyZ
— ACLU of Texas (@ACLUTx) February 22, 2018