Letter from Superintendent Halloran about school walk outs

Dear Parents and Students:

As you know, in response to the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many students and student-groups across the nation have organized demonstrations to protest gun violence. As part of these demonstrations, on March 14, 2018, some students chose to
“walk out of school”. At OESJ, those demonstrations were limited in duration, and students were back in classrooms with only minor disruption to the educational process.

In contrast, there are calls across the country for demonstrations on April 20, 2018 – the anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School – The call is for students across the county to walk out of their school building at 10:00 am and be absent from school for the remainder of the day.

Based on the minor disruption of the March 14th event, we chose to work with students to allow a controlled walk out. In regards to April 20th, we have determined that the planned walkout will be much more disruptive due to its duration. Therefore, students who leave the campus without proper authorization will face disciplinary consequences. These consequences may include suspension from school, prom, senior trip and club and athletic events.

We simply cannot condone such behavior, regardless of the message being promoted. Students who elect to participate in the walk out will not be allowed to remain on school grounds. If students attempt to congregate on school property, they will be asked to return to the school building.

If they refuse to return, they will be directed to leave school property. If a student fails to comply with either of these requests, the student may be deemed a “trespasser”, which may require law enforcement assistance to remove the student from school grounds.

It is our hope that you discuss this matter with your son or daughter so that we can avoid problems on that day. While the District supports free expression, it is our primary job to educate your children.

We find that students missing the majority of a school day, for whatever purpose, is in direct contradiction to our educational mission and such conduct will be handled according to our policies, rules and regulations. If you and your son or daughter decide that participation in the demonstration is appropriate, please be advised that discipline will be imposed.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact my office at (518) 568-7280. Thank you for your assistance and support.

Sincerely,

David Halloran
Superintendent