School suspends students after walkout over gun violence

March 1, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) — Dozens of students at a Phoenix-area middle school were suspended for leaving campus during a walkout to protest gun violence and to support victims of the Florida school shooting.

More than 100 students from Ingleside Middle School participated in the Tuesday protest, which lasted 17 minutes — a minute for each person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month.

“We have rights and we feel like we need to express those rights to make sure that the president and all these political figures hear our voices because they haven’t done anything yet, and we really think they need to make a change,” eighth-grader Madeline McRoberts told KTVK-TV.

Leaving campus during school hours without permission from parents is a violation of the district’s code of conduct, said officials with the Scottsdale Unified School District.

The students who left school property and did not return were given one-day suspensions, district communication specialist Nancy Norman told The Arizona Republic. The students who left campus but then returned were suspended for the rest of the day. The participating students who stayed on campus were not disciplined.

Principal Chris Thuman warned parents ahead of the walkout in an email Monday. He acknowledged a walkout would show a message of solidarity. “However, as the principal of Ingleside Middle School, I feel it is more important to have students remain in class and on campus no matter what issue may be in the news,” Thuman wrote.

Heidi Tessler, a mother to two students at the school, said one of her children was suspended, but disciplinary action isn’t the issue.

“The suspension didn’t matter to me,” Tessler said. “The issue isn’t whether the suspension is warranted. It is whether or not they are safe.”

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