Farmington Schools students who walk out April 20 may face consequences

A group of Farmington Public Schools students have plans for a second walkout on April 20 to draw attention to their concerns over gun violence.

But while school officials allowed a March event in memory of lives lost in a February 14 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, they’ve drawn a line this time. Because on Friday, students are not just walking out, they’re walking off campus.

More than 2,500 walkout events are planned across the country. While activities vary, students will observe 13 seconds of silence to honor the 13 victims of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher and injured 21 people before committing suicide.

FPS Students Demand ActionOn the Twitter social media platform, FPS Student Demand Action shared plans to walk from North Farmington High School to Orchard United Methodist Church, where they’ll hear from a panel of speakers.

Prior to the March 14 event, student leaders met with administrators as they organized events held inside buildings or on school grounds. Students were excused from classes without consequences.

Superintendent George Heitsch, in a Wednesday evening email, said students who leave school on Friday will be marked absent and face disciplinary action as with any unexcused absence. Parents may excuse their children to participate in the event, he wrote.

“Farmington Public Schools encourages students to speak about issues of importance to them, including the topic of school safety.  Student walkouts, however, disrupt the school environment, interfere with student learning, and create unique safety risks for students and staff.”

Heitsch suggested students find “productive ways” to advocate, such as attending school board and city government meetings, writing to their representatives, and exploring political involvement. “We, especially now, need their fresh and powerful voices.”

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