Earlier today, Seattle Public Schools’ Office of Public Affairs sent out the following email, in which they threaten disciplinary action in the form of unexcused absences against students who plan to participate in Inauguration Day walkouts. The letter’s implication that Seattle Public Schools will coordinate with the Seattle Police is highly troubling. I stand with the students, and call on SPS to retract its statement. SPS needs to recognize these protests as legitimate actions in defense of the rights of students, their families, and fellow community members who are directly threatened by President-Elect Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-worker agenda. Furthermore, Seattle is a sanctuary city, and we have to uphold the right of everyone to peaceful protest and assembly.
From: Seattle Public Schools <email@example.com>
Date: January 13, 2017 at 6:08:36 PM PST
Subject: Potential student walkout Jan. 20
Reply-To: Seattle Public Schools <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Seattle Public Schools families,
We have heard from some principals and through social media channels that our middle and high school students may choose to participate in a planned walkout on Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20. This call to action is not endorsed or sanctioned by the school district. The “National Student Walkout Against Trump” has been organized by a group called Socialist Students.
In November, ten thousand of our students safely walked out of school in response to the presidential election results. The district supports students’ rights to express their views in a peaceful manner. However, when civic engagement includes missing class, there are appropriate and standardized consequences. Students should understand that if they choose to participate in the January 20 walkout, they will receive an unexcused absence per board policy.
Board Policy 3121 (pdf)
Following an unexcused absence, students do not have the right to make up school work. Any make up is at the discretion of the principal and classroom teacher. The opportunity to make up work will depend on the course syllabus and other factors. If students do choose to walk out, you will receive a notice from the individual school. At this time, it is hard to predict how many schools and students will participate, if any.
Educators and other school staff have been asked to remain at school. Staff participation in the January 20 walkout, for reasons other than ensuring the safety of our students, will be treated as a personnel matter.
Finally, any time we know of a planned walkout, the district’s Safety and Security department works very closely with the Seattle Police Department (SPD). We are already in contact with SPD regarding this potential event.
In closing, if you have questions or concerns regarding the potential January 20 walkout you can send them to email@example.com or direct them to your child’s school principal.
Office of Public Affairs