Hawai‘i DOE Issues Guidance on Student Walkout
The state Department of Education is preparing for Wednesday’s national student walkout movement where students are planning to walkout of classes for 17 minutes on March 14, 2018, to honor the 17 lives lost in the school shooting that took place last month in Parkland, Florida.
The department has advised schools in Hawaiʻi to consider creating a designated area and encourage students to share ideas for improving campus safety and culture.
DOE administrators say that while they support Constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free expression, disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable. DOE administrators say participation in an organized walkout is voluntary and that students who leave school will be marked with an unexcused tardiness or absence.
In a letter to parents earlier this month, Hawaiʻi DOE Superintendent of schools Christina Kishimoto said there had been more than a dozen school threats over a two month period beginning in January, but that none of them were credible. A majority of them, she said, were made on social media.
“Police officials also reinforced the fact that our schools are safe. The well-being of our students is a community effort and it takes all of us to keep all of our students safe,” Kishimoto wrote in her March 2, 2018 letter to parents and guardians.
Wednesday’s walkout at 10 a.m. is one of two being promoted on social media. The other is on April 20th at 10 a.m., which falls on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.
“What we hope to gain from these experiences are student voices that help to shape how we can better design schools with safety in mind. I encourage you to speak to your child about their thoughts on this nationwide movement and if they choose to participate in a walkout activity,” Kishimoto wrote in her letter.
“Our goal in responding to walkout plans and other forms of peaceful assembly is to support student and staff safety and keep the focus on teaching and learning,” she stated.
There’s also a student-led March and “Concert for Our Lives” planned for March 24th, which has drawn participation from a star-studded line-up of talent on Maui including Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Willie K, Landon McNamara and Lily Meola. The movement includes similar gatherings across the country, as organizers demand legislation to end gun violence in schools.