While District 196 respects students’ constitutional right to peaceful assembly and free expression, protests are not school-sponsored activities. If students leave school during the day to protest, the district is committed to keeping the school environment focused on teaching and learning. Students who choose to leave class to protest are expected to make up all missed work due to their absence.
Students and their families are advised of the following guidelines concerning student walkouts and protests during the school day:
- Participation in walkouts and protests is entirely voluntary. No student or adult should coerce, intimidate, degrade or bully an individual who chooses to participate or not participate in a walkout or protest.
- Elementary school students are not allowed to leave school for a protest unless they are signed out by a parent in person. Middle school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but are expected to stay on school grounds unless they are signed out by a parent in person. High school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but the school will provide no supervision of high school students who leave school grounds for a protest. Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about their family expectations regarding participation in student protests.
- Students who leave school during the school day to participate in a peaceful protest are marked unexcused for the missed portion of the school day. As with other unexcused absences, students are expected to make up missed work.
- Students who leave school for part of the day to participate in peaceful protest are permitted to return to school for the remainder of the day.
- The right of free expression brings with it the responsibility to manage expression in a manner that is not disruptive to school. Students who engage in disruptive behavior at school may be subject to disciplinary consequences consistent with the District 196 discipline policy. School leaders help ensure that students who leave the building for a peaceful protest do so in an orderly way.
- Teaching and learning will continue for students who remain in class during a student protest.
- School leaders will communicate with parents and guardians when they become aware of large-scale, planned student protests in order to promote family conversations about the role of protest in society and family expectations concerning participation.