Cobb students, civil rights group criticize district response to walkouts

Pope High School student activists, backed by the Cobb County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called for fairness in how the schools discipline students for walking out of school in protest.

The students and the civil rights group held a news conference Tuesday to voice concerns about what they said are ambiguous and constantly changing threats of punishment that they face for walking out of school Wednesday as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence in the wake of last month’s Parkland, Fla. shooting. The SCLC promised to support students if they are unfairly punished for participation; about 280 Pope students have signed up to walkout despite what students said are attempts by school officials to deter participation.

Some metro Atlanta school districts such as Atlanta and DeKalb have said they will not punish students for peacefully participating in walkouts. Cobb officials have declined to publicly detail what exact punishment students will receive, and issued a vague statement that said  students "may be subject to consequences in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct."

“We have made many attempts to be clear with what our intentions are..., but unfortunately the county has not been listening to us,” said Pope senior Kara Litwin, who said that the code allows for a “wide range” of discipline. For those getting into trouble for the first time, students may receive anything from an administrative conference to three days of in-school suspension, she said. “There’s no way to tell, and it’s up to administration to determine the severity.”