Texas school district to suspend students who protest gun violence during school hours
A Texas school district says it plans to suspend students who walk out of class to protest gun violence after last week's mass shooting at a Florida high school.
Needville Independent School District (IDS) Superintendent Curtis Rhodes said in a letter that students who take part in any staged walkouts or "disruptions" will be suspended for three days.
"The Needville ISD is very sensitive to violence in schools including the recent incident in Florida," said Rhodes in the letter. "Anytime an individual deliberately chooses to harm others, we are sensitive and compassionate to those impacted. There is a 'movement' attempting to stage walkouts/disruptions of the school through social media and/or other media outlets."
"Please be advised that the Needville ISD will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness!!" he continued. "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. Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative."
"A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally. A disruption of the school will not be tolerated," he ended the letter. "Respect yourself, your fellow students and the Needville Independent School District and please understand that we are here for an education and not a political protest."
The note was distributed after news broke that students across the state of Florida were partaking in classroom walkouts to pressure lawmakers into tightening gun control restrictions in wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
These are the victims of the Florida attack:
Rhodes' statement, which was posted on Needville High School's Facebook page, racked up over 3,100 reactions and over a thousand comments displaying mixed reactions before it was removed from the site.
"So you’re teaching kids that they will be punished for standing up for what they believe in - glad I don’t have kids in that school district," one woman wrote.
"But will you allow a mass shooting during school hours?" a man questioned.
"Students have a right to their beliefs, but do not have the right to disrupt school," wrote a third. "Nor do they have a right to skip classes without consequences. The Superintendent is right in this matter."
One woman even shared the response a different school district had to news of the walkouts, which stands in stark comparison to Rhodes'.
Next month, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are planning a massive march on Washington, D.C. called March for Our Lives in order to rally for increased gun control and school safety measures.
Learn more about the movement here.