Dear AUSD Community,
In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, parents, students, activists, and others have taken to social media to call for students and educators to participate in one or more school walkouts. Organizers say the walkouts are in protest of the lack of legislation to keep schools and communities safe from gun violence.
The Women's March organizers are encouraging "students, teachers, and their allies to walk out of schools on March 14 to protest gun violence." Survivors of the Parkland shooting announced a March for Our Lives event planned for Saturday, March 24. Another walkout is planned for April 20, which will mark the 19th year since the tragedy at Columbine High School.
It is possible that some of our students will choose to participate in these walkouts. Another possibility is that spontaneous walkouts may occur as the local and national conversations evolve on this issue. No student will be encouraged or pressured to join any of the walkouts. Please keep in mind that if your child leaves campus without authorization, their absence is considered unexcused and may be subject to appropriate consequences.
Our students have a powerful voice that can effect change, and it is our duty as educators to support our students as they grapple with violence, death, and mental illness. This is an opportunity for us to provide guidance on how students can be civically engaged and politically active on an issue that affects them directly. We also want to ensure that both students' First Amendment rights and their safety are given the highest priority. We want to show our students that they have a role to play in our democratic process and that their voices matter - and to support their activism in a safe, constructive manner.
Some schools will be holding activities on campus in keeping with our safe schools theme and programs. Participation in these school-sanctioned activities will not be counted as an absence as long as students return to class when directed. I also encourage parents/guardians to discuss with your child respectful behavior in our community and observance of all traffic safety laws.
School principals will send out a message to their parent community with any additional information specific to their sites. Please contact your school principal if you have any questions.
Thank you for your partnership on this issue.
Val Williams, Superintendent