ACLU Offers Guidance to Kentucky School Districts Ahead of Walkout

Mar 13, 2018

School systems across Kentucky are making plans ahead of a national school walkout on Wednesday to protest gun violence. 

Organizers of the Women’s March have called for a 17-minute walkout at 10:00 a.m., one minute for each of the 17 victims killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14.

Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton says he supports students and their right to march in support of tighter gun laws.  He told WKU Public Radio that students won’t be punished as long as their activism is approved by their school principal.

"If that desire is there, I have every confidence that our principals will work with our students so that it can be a situation of learning for not only the students, but our school officials, as well," Clayton said.  "I'm confident they'll be able to accommodate such as request without compromising the learning environment for the day."

Other school leaders around the nation have taken a tougher stance, even threatening to suspend students who take part in Wednesday’s walkout. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky sent a letter on Monday to school systems across the state urging them to allow students to protest without fear of discipline or arrest.

"As we are sure you are aware, students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate," wrote Amy Cubbage, Interim Legal Director for the ACLU of Kentucky.

If a school district does choose to enforce disciplinary action, the letter states that students cannot be punished more harshly than they would be for any other unexcused absence. Otherwise, school districts would be violating students’ free speech rights.