School districts differ on protests

Whether the upcoming national protest — April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting — against school shootings is a teachable moment depends largely on the school district.

On Wednesday, for example, we provided an update from Bemidji where the school superintendent shut down a call for walkout and protest.

Many districts are trying to address the situation in advance and sending home letters and emails to parents. If you get one from your district, we’d be interested in sharing it.

Here’s one today from Robbinsdale, where Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins is looking for a middle ground on how students can make their feelings known.

Dear Families,

We hope this message finds you well.

There has been much in the news media and on social media about school walkouts to protest gun violence in the wake of the recent high school shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

In Robbinsdale Area Schools, we are made of great communities with great children. Our district, along with our School Board and Administration, is committed to having conversations about these kinds of events which impact our students. We will use the current energy of our young people as an opportunity to listen.

If students at our schools decide to join in the national protests against school violence, we would prefer students remain in our buildings. If they need a space for voicing frustration or having student-led dialogue, we have asked staff to provide them with a space to gather on campus. That said, we want to create a sense of normalcy for the students who may not want to participate in any walkout activities. As in the past, and in alignment with our Unified District Vision (UDV) goal of amplifying student voice, we encourage our students to be responsible in their decision making during this very critical moment of respecting the views of their peers and our learning communities. Please note: we will work collaboratively to maintain a safe and orderly environment for all children and staff. As a reminder, if you have specific questions about your individual buildings, please contact your school’s principal.

In alignment with our UDV’s goal of partnering with our families, we are asking you to engage with us in this process by speaking with your child about feeling free to share their thoughts in a responsible manner to bring about a greater good for all.

In closing, as superintendent, I want to thank you in advance for assisting us in this conversation with our students.

Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Robbinsdale Area Schools

And then there’s the district in a city south of Houston, Texas where a school superintendent posted on Facebook that he wants no part of protest or awareness, the Dallas Morning News said.

Needville High School’s mission this year is “empowering students to become positive, well-rounded, and productive members of society.”

The school district has since deactivated its Facebook page.