School District Announces Plans To Punish Students Who Protest For Gun Reform

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The nation has been gripped by the debate over what to do about gun violence in the aftermath of the shooting last week at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 people dead and many more wounded. The shooting struck close to home for many; after all, if that high school wasn’t safe, then what’s to say that other high schools are safe?

In that light, there have been growing calls for common sense gun control in the days since the shooting, with those calls culminating in plans for at least three significant national protests. On March 24, the “March for Our Lives” will take place in Washington, D.C., with apparent associated demonstrations taking place at the same time in cities around the U.S.

In addition to that, there are at least two prominent school walkout protests being planned; one is being led by the Women’s March organizers and is set for March 14 and the other is being led by a Connecticut student from near Sandy Hook Elementary School and is set for April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine high school massacre.

In light of the growing calls for protest, the superintendent of one Texas school district has stated that any students who participate in such events on school time will be suspended.

On Tuesday, a letter from Needville ISD Superintendent Curtis Rhodes was distributed establishing that no matter how many students choose to participate, each and every one will be suspended if they walk out of class or otherwise disrupt school.

The letter reads, in part:

‘Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved. All will be suspended for 3 days and parent notes will not alleviate the discipline.’

The Houston Chronicle describes Rhodes as having stated that the district is “sensitive to violence in schools.” However, that does not change the superintendent’s stance. His letter calls schools “a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally,” adding that a “disruption” of that will “not be tolerated.”

It’s hard to see how participating in a protest is something completely unrelated to growing “educationally, emotionally, and morally,” as Rhodes indicates he believes. He could accommodate those who want to participate in the protests through such means as, perhaps, tasking particular personnel with ensuring the safety of the students and accommodating whatever protests that may want to participate in.

Instead, protests just aren’t allowed.

There have already been school walkouts in South Florida, which is where Parkland is situated.

Students have made their support of common sense gun control known in other ways as well.

For example, student Emma Gonzalez, who will be participating in a Wednesday town hall hosted by CNN about gun violence, delivered an impassioned speech in support of gun control at a recent rally in Fort Lauderdale that’s been widely circulated in the days since.

The president’s response to the calls for gun control has been tempered, although he did move to ban “bump stocks,” which transform semi-automatic weapons into devices closer to automatic weapons.

Featured Image via Zach Gibson/Getty Images