New Prague High School, southwest of the Twin Cities, is ground zero in the gun debate nationally after a video showed a student, holding a sign that said “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” was told he couldn’t hold it during Wednesday’s protest against school shootings.
The Facebook video, posted by another student, showed principal Lonnie Seifert telling Andy Dalsin that he couldn’t hold the sign because it hadn’t been approved by school authorities 24 hours in advance, the Jordan Independent reports.
Kids at our school today walked out, in honor of the 17 students killed in Florida. Students held signs that said, “Arm our teachers” they had two signs. A student walked out without saying a word peacefully put up his sign which said “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” he was escorted off the property by our principal and threatened to be put into a police car. This violates the first amendment and makes me sick that they can do whatever they want. Please make this go viral. Location: New Prague High school, Minnesota.
Posted by Kenny MacDonald on Wednesday, March 14, 2018
The school department says on its website that the student wasn’t disciplined and the sign was moved off school property.
Yesterday approximately 100 of our high school students participated in a walkout, as did many of their peers across the country. The walkout was conducted peacefully and without conflict. Since then, attention has been focused on a sign that was present during the walkout.
The District has a policy that such items must be submitted to and reviewed by school administration at least 24-hours in advance. In compliance with the District’s policy “… to protect the exercise of students’ and employees’ free speech rights, [while] taking into consideration the educational objectives and responsibilities of the School District,” the sign was moved to non-school grounds. The District has an obligation to enforce this policy without regard to political viewpoint.
No student was disciplined and law enforcement was not involved with any of the students present during the walkout.
New Prague Area Schools fully respects and recognizes that students have free speech rights. Those rights, however, are to be balanced against the District’s responsibility to maintain a school environment focused on education. The District’s administration has an obligation to enforce the policy, which is known as a “time, place, and manner restriction.” For more information, our policy #505 can be found on our district website at npaschools.org.
The school system didn’t indicate whether the sign would have been approved had it been submitted under the guidelines.
“I stood in the back,” Dalsin tells KSTP. “I didn’t try and cause a ruckus, but I was seen by the principal and he came and we had our exchange.”
Dalsin says other students held signs which hadn’t been submitted for approval.
“Across the country people are using students to push the rhetoric of gun control,” Dalsin said. “And I wanted to come out here, and at the same time (while) supporting the victims, come forward with an attitude that shows a different viewpoint.”
Related: A rural take on gun violence walkout (Fergus Falls Daily Journal)