Five DeKalb high schoolers received a one-day suspension for continuing to demonstrate after a 17-minute Wednesday walkout to protest gun violence ended.
The disciplinary action is the first punishment connected to the walkouts reported by a metro Atlanta school district. Students in Cobb and Gwinnett were warned that they would be punished for walking out, but as of Thursday evening the districts had not detailed what specific discipline students would receive.
The DeKalb County School District took a lenient approach to the walkouts. Officials said they supported students who wanted to demonstrate, so long as the protests were peaceful.
But after the walkout ended, five Tucker High School students continued to demonstrate through an in-school sit-in, according to district spokeswoman Shumuriel Ratliff.
“When given the opportunity to discontinue their demonstration in lieu of a one-day suspension, the students indicated they were willing to continue letting their voices be heard,” she said, in an email.
Clayton County and Atlanta school districts allowed the walkouts to take place and reported that no students were disciplined.
Nearly 23,000 of Fulton County’s roughly 97,000 students participated in what the district called “expressions of support” for the 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., school shooting, which sparked the nationwide school walkouts.
Fulton County Schools initially said it would not allow walkouts, but softened its stance after outcry from students and parents. Still, the district tightly controlled what happened through structured events. At Cambridge High School, students were cut off as they made a speech about gun control that the principal later said went “off-script.”
In Gwinnett, the district estimated 3,900 of its 180,000 students walked out. For the most part, the district reported that students walked out quietly and then returned to class. The largest disruption occurred at Berkmar High School where someone pulled a fire alarm at 10 a.m. causing the evacuation of the building.
The ACLU of Georgia asked students who were disciplined for walking out to contact the organization, which has been monitoring the demonstrations in an effort to protect students’ free speech rights.
-- Staff writer Arlinda Smith Broady contributed to this article.
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