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Closed Restroom Prompts Sit-In; Nine Students Suspended

February 7, 1986

DICKINSON, Texas (AP) _ Nine high school students are facing five-day suspensions after staging a sit-in to protest the closing of a girls’ restroom.

The nine girls, all ninth- and 10th-graders, returned to class at Dickinson High School Thursday after being detained by police a day earlier. The suspensions will take effect Feb. 17 and the students face court dates later this month.

Principal Anne Coppenhaver said the restroom was closed for cleaning after students ignored warnings to stop writing on walls. It was scheduled to reopen Monday.

Protester Melanie Tullos, 15, said the other restrooms in the school were too far away from her next class and too crowded.

″We have only seven minutes between classes,″ she said Thursday. ″By the time we get to class we’re late, and we’re marked as being tardy for class.″

Rose St. Landry, 17, the only legal adult among the students and the only one taken to jail, said the demonstration was ″thought up in about five minutes.″

Ms. Coppenhaver said school officials met with the girls for a half-hour before deciding to call police.

″They made it clear that they were doing it as a matter of principle,″ she said. ″They wouldn’t budge. We asked them to come to the office and talk about it, but they wouldn’t.″

Eight of the girls were released to their parents. Miss St. Landry was charged with two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and participating in disruptive activities.