Oldham County Schools will discipline students who participate in walkout
BUCKNER, KY (WAVE) — Oldham County Schools will discipline students who participate in the nationwide school walkout scheduled for Wednesday.
Superintendent Greg Schultz said allowing students to take part in the walk out puts them in danger.
But some students said they can't stand by and wait for the next tragedy to happen.
Afraid she might not come home from school one day, Oldham County High School freshman Ani Tapp is planning to stand up for herself and her peers.
"If we can't be safe in school, then they are ensuring that we live a period of our lives not knowing whether we are coming home," Tapp said.
Tapp is among the Oldham County High School students planning to partake in the walkout.
"This is terrifying as a student, Tapp said. "As a daughter, I can't imagine how my parents would feel if something like this were to happen to me or how I would feel if something like this were to happen to my friends."
On March 14th at 10 a.m., Tapp and some classmates will walk out of school for 17 minutes and use that time to contact local lawmakers. Tapp and her fellow students are calling for strict gun regulations and better background checks.
Walkouts are scheduled around the country at schools on Wednesday. The National School Walkout was created by student survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, to ask for stricter gun laws.
"We need change," Tapp said. "If this is an issue you believe in you have to do something about it."
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Superintendent Schultz sent a letter to parents ahead of the walkout, citing safety concerns and liability issues. Students who participate in a walkout would be considered in "defiance of authority" and face punishments as if they were cutting class.
Tapp said detention isn't what her classmates should be afraid of - and it won't scare her or her peers from walking out.
"If I weren't to do anything and something like this were to happen again, I wouldn't be able to live with myself," Tapp said.
Other school districts have responded to walkouts, too.
In a letter to principals, Jefferson County Public School Superintendent Dr. Carmen Coleman said students would not be disciplined for participating in a walkout, provided they return to school after the walkout ends.
In a letter to Greater Clark County Schools stakeholders, Superintendent Andrew Melin said that while the district doesn't feel it is safe to allow students to leave the building during highly-publicized events, they believe the voices of students need to be respected. GCCS said they will support students and allow them to hold organized events on Wednesday.
The official statements from OCS, JCPS and GCCS are below.
Letter from Oldham County Schools Superintendent Schultz:
We are in the midst of reviewing our safety protocols, listening to the concerns of staff and families, and deciding upon next steps to provide the best and safest environment for all. After meeting with local law enforcement last week I was told that they consider our schools to be exceptionally safe with our security upgrades over the last three years.
One thing I have decided, as the person charged with keeping everyone as safe as possible, is that we will NOT be participating in any walkouts. Here is my reasoning so that you understand where I am coming from.
By doing so we are taking our students from a safe zone to an unsafe, less controlled zone. This is not a good plan nor a safe plan.
This country was founded on the right to voice opinions and I am not suggesting that we shut down our student and staff voices. I am suggesting that opinions be voiced in a manner that does not expose anyone to increased liability or decreased safety. Schools will find other ways to allow your students to express their concerns without leaving the building. Suggestions might include writing letters to their representatives, writing public service announcements, having a moment of silence for those affected by school violence, or writing sympathy letters to those schools. There are many options for schools to allow student voices to be heard that day in a safe and controlled environment. If you have a specific question, please contact your student's school. Please remember that OCS is undergoing email migration starting at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 8. All OCS staff will not be able to access email until sometime after 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 12. If you need to reach school personnel during that time frame, you will need to call the school office.
If students were to walk out they would be subject to the same disciplinary consequences as they would for defiance of authority and cutting class.
Families are encouraged to use the Educational Enhancement Opportunity policy if they wish to attend a rally outside of the school.
Thanks in advance for working with us to allow student expression while keeping everyone safe.
Oldham County Schools
Jefferson County Public Schools sent this email to district principals:
March 7, 2018
As you know, a nationally organized student walkout is planned for March 14 at 10 a.m. As you think ahead, I encourage each of you to speak with students in your building and encourage alternate activities; however, if they are going to participate, it is critical to provide a safe environment with adult supervision.
Please inform your assistant superintendent of your plan to ensure student safety.
If students participate and do not return to class, they will be counted absent and are subject to discipline according to JCPS policies and procedures.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for providing safe learning environments for our students.
Dr. Carmen Coleman
JCPS Acting Chief Academic Officer
Letter from Greater Clark County Schools:
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