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Clark County schools take softer line on gun violence walkout

Updated March 9, 2018 - 10:53 pm

The Clark County School District is dropping its opposition to students participating in a national student walkout on March 14 that aims to bring attention to gun violence.

“We support all students who are willing to take the time to research major issues in the news and express their opinions/advocate for what they think is right,” read two memos sent by district officials to parents and principals on Friday.

Students may organize a walkout or other events as long as they are preapproved by administrators, the memos state.

“CCSD staff should monitor these events to ensure student safety, but should not express their own personal opinions on political issues,” the letter to principals read.

Students can still be marked tardy or unexcused if they miss class to engage in non-approved activities, in accordance with state law.

Numerous walkouts planned

And while schools cannot suspend students for participating in an unapproved walkout, those with unexcused absences are not permitted to participate in extracurricular activities on the day of the absence, the district advised principals.

The guidance comes as students across the valley — including those at Legacy High, Valley High, Las Vegas Academy, the Meadows School and others — organize marches for the day to bring attention to school safety and, in some cases, promote stricter gun laws.

The district initially warned administrators that students are not allowed to walk out of class, and highlighted the importance of talking with students about how a walkout is not necessary. That letter spread concern among students who were planning such events.

Mia Trotchie, a sophomore at Spring Valley High School who’s helping organize a march there, said some people told her to stop throwing a temper tantrum and write a letter to a senator instead.

“I feel like at some point, (with) enough letters being ignored and nothing changing, there’s really nothing left for us to do except to throw a temper tantrum,” she told the Review-Journal. “Obviously it’s starting something, because high schools all over the U.S. — they’re marching.”

ACLU weighs in

The ACLU of Nevada sent letters to school districts throughout the state on Thursday to remind administrators of students’ rights.

The letter cited a Supreme Court case that found students do not give up their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression once they enter school.

“We Nevadans know all too well the pain and trauma of a mass shooting, and as students across the country mobilize to force change in the wake of the Parkland, (Florida) tragedy, the issue of free speech in schools is once again at the forefront of American dialogue,” the letter states.

The marches are expected to take place at 10 a.m. and last at least 17 minutes, to remember each of the 17 people killed in the Florida shooting on Feb. 14. Some local walkouts may last longer than that, however.

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Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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