Students at 18 schools (and counting) across Seattle will walk out of their classrooms today at 10 a.m. to commemorate the one month anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. The students will be sending a message to lawmakers: a demand for stricter gun laws. The walkout will last for 17 minutes for the 17 victims of the shooting.
The Seattle schools walkout is part of the National School Walkout was organized by EMPOWER, the Women’s March youth group.Thousands of schools across the nation are signed up to participate. Neighborhood publications West Seattle Blog is also noting that there are students from schools not on the national website’s list participating in the walkout.
The Seattle Public Schools board wants students to stay on campus, if they choose to participate in the walkout. Here’s what the board said in its March 7 resolution on gun safety:
“There are other student-led events scheduled to happen during school hours. National organizers are calling for 17 minutes of action/activity on Wednesday, March 14 to commemorate the 17 lives lost in Parkland, Florida. Schools may hold different activities, ranging from assemblies to classroom lessons to moments of silence. Students in some schools may choose to walk out in a more visible means of protest.
Although we support students’ First Amendment rights, we encourage students to remain on campus: first because of safety; second because state law requires such absences to be unexcused. If students do leave campus, staff will observe in an attempt to keep students safe but will not be leading the event.”
Some schools, such as Whitman Middle School, located in Seattle's Crown Hill neighborhood, are asking for parent volunteers to be there during the walkout to make sure that students remain safe. Other schools, such as Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, located in Seattle's Licton Springs neighborhood, are asking students to not participate in the walkout and instead walk up to another student or teacher and ask how they are doing.
— Rebecca Wynkoop (@EagleStaffLib) March 13, 2018
Other high schools, including Ballard High Schoolo, are organizing walks around the track to keep students safe and on campus.
The ACLU of Washington also issued a statement, showing support for students to exercise their First Amendment rights, saying “Washington law doesn’t give schools unlimited discretion to punish students for missing school. In fact, as a general rule, if students in Washington engage in a walkout, any discipline should take place only in school. In-school discipline can include detentions, community service, parental notification, meetings, and conferences.
Under Washington law, schools cannot suspend a student to punish a first-time unexcused absence. Schools can only use suspension to punish behavior if the student has previously had an unexcused absence and the school has already tried another type of discipline to address the student’s absences. So, unless a student has already had an unexcused absence and already been disciplined for it, the school shouldn’t respond to a walkout by suspending her or him.”
Here’s the list of Seattle schools that officially registered through EMPOWER’s website:
- The Northwest School
- Garfield High School
- Holy Names Academy
- Coe Elementary School
- Montlake Elementary
- Hamilton International Middle School
- Lawton Elementary
- Ballard High School
- Salmon Bay School K-8
- Whittier Heights Elementary
- Greenwood Elementary
- Denny Middle School
- Thornton Creek Elementary School
- Sacajawea Elementary School
- Whitman Middle School
- Nathan Hale High School
- Hazel Wolf K-8
- Lakeside Middle School
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is also joining the student walkout, with students from Roosevelt, Nathan Hale, University Prep, and Bishop Blanchet, and will speak at a rally in support of gun safety, commonsense gun laws, and the elimination of gun violence.
“Our young people are speaking out to reduce gun violence, and we should listen," said Durkan. "Commonsense gun laws protect our City, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our children. Students are demanding change, and we must act to fight gun violence together,."
The Seattle City Council is also in full support of the walkout. A resolution supporting the student walkout was sponsored by councilmember Lorena Gonzalez and it passed unanimously.