West Windor-Plainsboro superintendent: ‘We respect our students’ rights to peacefully assemble’

West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional Schools Superintendent David Aderhold says the district will support the rights of students to peacefully assemble and participate in the Enough! National School Walkout on March 14.

“Over the past two weeks, there have been many inquiries regarding the nationwide student walkout that has been planned in response to the Parkland, Florida school shooting…To date, there are three nationwide events planned. All events work to bring attention to elevate a conversation and bring to the forefront the impact of gun violence in our nation’s schools,” wrote Aderhold in a letter to parents this week.

“The West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District respects the rights of our students to peacefully assemble. Today, I am meeting with members of our senior leadership  and building principals to discuss the importance of  honoring student voices and their desire to participate in  this movement, while insuring that events are age and  grade-level appropriate,” he wrote. “We believe that proactively planning the events on March 14 will work to ensure maximum safety for students and staff.  In the next week, we will work to  develop a district-wide approach for March 14. We will  work to address a plan for those who wish to participate and  those who do not wish to participate in the event.”

On  March 7, the superintendent will release an updated plan describing the events taking place on March 14. Events on school grounds will be for students only, not adults, in order to ensure the safety of all students and staff, Aderhold said.

“If your child requires any ongoing support regarding  the recent tragedies or if you need support to talk to your  child about such events, please know that the district  stands prepared to support you. Please reach out to your  child’s school counselor or building administrator,” he wrote. “Ensuring student educational development begins with taking care of  the social and emotional learning of each student. Having students feel safe and supported is a critical element of their ability to learn.”

The walkout calls for students to peacefully assemble at 10 a.m. on March 14 for 17 minutes – 1 minute for every life taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students at middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country are planning to participate in the event.

At the John Witherspoon Middle School in Princeton, more than 130 people are following the Instagram account @theJWMSWalkout to organize for March 14. More than 200 people are following the event page for a walkout at Princeton High School. District officials in Princeton have not yet sent a letter to parents addressing how the walkout will be handled there. Several hundred students at Princeton University are also planning a noon event “We call BS: Princeton Rally for Gun Reform” on March 14.

On Monday, the Lawrenceville School joined with fellow members of the Eight Schools Association — a group of elite independent schools — to issue a statement in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School  and demand meaningful action to keep students safe from gun violence on campuses and beyond.

“As many of our students have joined a nationwide movement to support the victims and survivors of gun violence in America, we pledge, as leaders of those schools, to help amplify their voices. Our students come from every state in this nation and from around the world to receive the very best care and education,” reads the statement. “We are moved to take action out of responsibility for the thousands of children in our care and out of compassion for children throughout this country.  Each day of inaction chips away at every teacher’s right to deliver and every student’s right to receive an education free from fear and violence.”

The statement calls on elected representatives to take meaningful legislative and regulatory action to make schools safer for learning and teaching. “It is hard to imagine any topic that would be more worthy today of our leaders’ focus,” reads the statement. “Do not let our students’ voices go unheard this time.”

One Comment

  1. Any walkout cannot and should not be organized by the district. The walkout SHOULD cause controversy, and if these ‘events’ are organized by staff it defeats the purpose of the protest. It wont get any recognition and will be about as influential as any school assembly, as in not at all.

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