PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Marching for a change, students at thousands of schools across the country, including here in South Florida, walked out of school Friday morning.
The walkout comes on the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado in which 13 people were killed.
The students walked out in a push for safer schools.
Friday morning, Broward County Public Schools issued a statement supporting the peaceful protest. It read in part:
Friday, April 20, 2018, marks the 19th anniversary of the mass school shooting at Columbine High School and students across the country have designated this day to honor the victims of this tragedy, encourage voter registration and promote gun reform laws.
It is not, nor has it ever been a practice for the District to permit our schools to be used as politicized venues.BCPS continues to support our students’ rights to make their voices heard and encourages peaceful and lawful protests only. Any violations of the Student Code of Conduct will be handled with the appropriate disciplinary consequence. In the event that students walk out or gather, school principals have been told to have a designated space for students to remain on campus to ensure safety and supervision.
Melissa Falkowski teaches journalism at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High where 17 people, including 14 students, were killed in mass shooting on February 14.
She said the goal of the Walkout and National Day of Action against Gun Violence in Schools is to keep efforts to improve school safety and legislate common sense gun control front and center.
“The students are trying to stand up for what they believe in,” said Falkowski. “The fear is that if there aren’t all these events that continue to happen what’s going to keep this issue in the news? We don’t want the next thing that brings it back into the news another school shooting.”
Falkowski led a group of teachers who picketed outside the school before the start of classes. They’re concerned that money used to fund a state bill to better protect schools, including arming teachers, increasing mental health funding and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill will harm overall education funding.
“That money is coming out of a lot of the funds that already existed for education and that leaves us short for other resources for things like teacher raises, supplies and books and technology and things like that,” she said.
Falkowski believes this cause goes beyond keeping our schools safe.
“It can’t just be looked at as a school safety issue,” she said. “There are definitely measures that can be taken to protect our schools but we have to look at it as a societal issue and what we’re going to do to solve this problem in society at large.”
The National Walkout organizers say their goals are for students to have a moment of silence, speak up about the gun control issue and contact their legislators to demand action. Falkowski says she’ll organize a voter registration effort.