Please note – the below statements were sent to all USD #116 families on Friday, March 9, 2018.
USD116 Statement about Student Led Walkouts
March 6, 2018
The school shooting on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was a tragedy that has reached into every community, including ours. Urbana School District #116 takes school safety seriously, and our staff conducts reviews and drills on a regular basis. Schools are the foundation of American society, and our students and staff deserve to feel safe and secure while they are at school. One of the outcomes of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is an increase in student activism and civic engagement around the issue of gun violence in our society. In conversations I have had with students at Urbana High School and across the district, we understand that our students plan to show their support for the students from Parkland, Florida. There are at least three events that are being discussed at a local and national level:
- March 14: #Enough! National School Walkout for 17 minutes (one minute for each of the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida)
- March 24: March for Our Lives in Washington, DC (@AMarch4OurLives)
- April 20: National School Walkout in memory of the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting (@schoolwalkoutUS)
Urbana School District #116’s primary responsibility is to the social, emotional, and academic needs of our students. We encourage teachers, parents/guardians to talk to your student(s) about how they may be feeling and the importance of expressing themselves in appropriate ways at school. We also encourage any students who want to participate or express their views on the issues related to gun violence in this country to work with their building principal in order to plan activities that have minimal disruption to the school day. We value student voice in important issues, and we know that our students will conduct themselves in peaceful and productive ways when expressing their individual views.
We recognize that the issue of gun violence is emotional for adults as well as students. We would like to remind USD116 employees that, under Illinois law (5 ILCS 430/) and USD116 Board Policy (2:150), school employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities while at work or on duty. We expect all administrators, faculty, and staff to supervise students and provide a safe environment for students. We are asking building administrators to create a plan for supervising all students in the walkouts, including those who participate and those who don’t, and remind staff to not actively participate in student-led demonstrations.
Our students safety and protection are our first priority. We value diversity of thought and civic engagement, and we will use any student-led demonstration as a learning opportunity. Students who participate in peaceful, planned activities, will not receive disciplinary consequences, as long as they abide by school and district expectations related to behavior. Students who do not wish to participate will be allowed to remain in class and will be supervised and held to the same expectations.
Urbana School District #116 is a community committed to equity, engagement, and educational excellence to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge, develop skills, and build character to achieve personal greatness.
Donald D. Owen, Ed.D.
Outstanding Schools in an Outstanding Community