President’s Statement on Recent School Violence
We are all deeply disturbed by the violence at Stoneman Douglass High School. Our first priority is to protect our children.
We have heard from many of you with questions of how PTAs should address school violence and also student activism. We are working on developing our response and guidelines that to help you work with your PTAs.
Here are a few resources to help provide guidelines:
In 2016, the FCCPTA worked with Franklin Sherman Elementary PTA in McLean to develop a resolution when a gun store opened next to their playground. Virginia PTA ended up adopting the resolution.
We have also held panels on mental health and another on firearm violence prevention and are looking into holding another.
We are also working with FCPS about their approach to school safety, mental health, and student activism.
Beth Henson Tudan
Student Participation in Political Activities
– FCPS respects the rights of our students to engage in peaceful protest and express their opinions through speech and other ways as long as it is done respectfully, does not interfere with the rights of others, and does not disrupt learning in the school.
– We respect students’ rights to participate in walkouts especially during non-instructional time such as lunch, in hallways, during activities, etc., as long as they meet their educational and administrative obligations. They may wear t-shirts and other insignia advertising related messages as long as those clothes are not obscene, vulgar, or otherwise in violation of the SR&R.
– Students are allowed to leave classrooms and their buildings, although they are encouraged to remain on school property for safety reasons.
– Students participating in marches or walkouts are expected to participate in class and to respond to administrative questions and directives in the same way as all other students.
– Per SR&R, “An unexcused absence from school or from class is one for which the student does not have a legitimate reason in the opinion of the principal. When a student is absent without prior communication between the parent and the school, school personnel will notify the parent and take appropriate action based on the individual circumstances.”
– If principals are approached about leafleting, rallies, speeches, flyers, use of tables for literature and discussion, etc., their approval or disapproval should be governed by the same rules that the school ordinarily applies to such activities. (See Regulation 1367 and SR&R)
– Harassment of participants should not be tolerated at any school.
– Our Student Rights and Responsibilities document states: “Students may exercise the right to freedom of expression through speech, assembly, petition, and other lawful means and have the right to advocate change of any law, policy, or regulation. The exercise of this of this right may not interfere with the rights of others…”