Berkeley County students who participate in National Walk Out will face discipline

Berkeley County School District (WCIV)

The Berkeley County School District sent a message to all parents Tuesday stating any student who participates in a national walkout planned for March 14 will face potential punishments.

The walkout aims to protest gun violence in schools.

"Upon receipt of legal advice from our district counsel and review of BCSD Board policy, the district cannot promote any political protest or do any such act that transforms our schools into arenas for political activity. Although the district believes in the democratic process, promoting or permitting one protest necessarily would cause the district to have to do the same for other protests. Accordingly, the district will operate pursuant to district policy and disciplinary procedures regarding the March 14 Student Walk Out."

The district states that instead, all middle schools and high schools will recognize at 170-second moment of silence at 10 a.m. to remember lives lost in school shootings across the nation.

Katie Tanner, a BCSD spokesperson, said students who walk out of class or show up late to class without permission as part of the protests would face the same punishments as they would for those offenses on any other day of school.

Wednesday marks one month since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Fla.

The National School Walkout, organized by the National Women’s March organization, calls for students nationwide to walk out at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes—one minute for each person who was killed during the massacre. The effort is aimed at supporting more gun control legislation.

Shaundra Young Scott, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina, voiced concerns Monday about school administrators punishing students who engage in protest actions.

"These young people's actions are protected by the First Amendment," Scott said. "The Supreme Court ruled long ago that civil rights do not end at the schoolhouse gate. We encourage all South Carolina educators and administrators to respect our students' constitutional rights and celebrate their activism."

(This story has been updated to reflect further clarification from Berkeley County School District Officials.)

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