Students and staff in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, on March 14, are planning response to the school shooting in Parkland, FL. Karen Hall explained in a post to the MRH community on Wednesday.
Hall said no MRH student who exercises the constitutional right to peacefully participate will be reprimanded or made to fear retribution. “Dissent, dialogue, and debate are critical. What better way to inspire and prepare our students as tomorrow’s leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens?” she said.
Schools nationwide are planning walkouts on Wednesday, March 14, at 10 a.m. local time, and last for 17 minutes to honor the lives of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Hall’s letter to the MRH community:
MRH Letter to the Community; Parkland Demonstrations
To our students, families, and community partners,
On Valentine’s Day of this year, fear and anxiety once again welled up in the hearts of millions of Americans when a rampaging gunman massacred 17 people, mostly students, at a school in Parkland, Florida.
With that atrocity still fresh on our minds, MRH wants to assure families that our children’s physical and emotional safety is our top priority. We have plans in place at each of our schools to handle emergencies. We work with the Maplewood and Richmond Heights Police and Fire Departments, as well as private crisis response experts, to prepare and practice our safety procedures with students and staff. We ask only that our families listen and respond to their children’s concerns about school safety, as we all strive to allay the fear that would otherwise paralyze us into a state of inaction.
We have arrived at a moment when MRH staff and students alike are moved to protest publicly and loudly to bring about change. Capturing the attention of change agents — such as lawmakers and judges — often demands public displays of outrage. This is why we must not foster a system whereby students are afraid to walk out of their school buildings, link arms, and project their messages loudly and clearly. No MRH student who exercises the constitutional right to peacefully participate in this type of speech will be reprimanded or made to fear retribution. Dissent, dialogue, and debate are critical. What better way to inspire and prepare our students as tomorrow’s leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens?
MRH students across all grade levels will make their statements in a variety of ways on the morning of March 14:
- At the Elementary School, students will be supplied with a permission slip which ensures that each student who chooses to walk out of class has first had a discussion with family members about the issues surrounding safety in schools. Staff members will ensure the students’ safety both indoors and outdoors during the walkout.
- At MRH High and Middle Schools, the district is offering students the option to participate and demonstrate their support for the lives lost as well as recognizing the importance of school safety. This is not a pro- or anti-gun rally. So far, we have had two student-led planning meetings in recent weeks and we will have follow-up meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
- At our Early Childhood Center, where a wholesale walkout would be neither safe nor age-appropriate, students and staff will engage in acts of kindness, an all-school project that takes time and makes space to take care of one other. ECC has decided to move its event to Friday, March 16th. In the morning they are going to celebrate their learning community through reading together. Second-grade classes are paired with a preschool home space and 1st grade is paired with kindergarten. In the afternoon, they are going to end the day with a Kindness March.
Please remember that our first responsibility is student supervision and safety. We want to make clear that any student who leaves campus without permission may face consequences. Likewise, any members of the public who come onto campus without permission to join the protests will be asked to leave and perhaps removed by law enforcement.
Karen I. Hall, Superintendent, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District