Local students planning walk-out in Eau Claire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Local students are planning a non-partisan walk-out to show support against gun violence.

Memorial High School Students are hosting the event on Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m.

According the event's Facebook page, it says students and community members will be meeting outside Memorial High School off Clairemont Avenue and march towards the English wing and back to door four. The group says it’s to ensure safer schools and communities.

The walk out will be 17 minutes long and will end with 17 seconds of silence for each victim of the Parkland School shooting.

For more information, click here.

Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Hardebeck issued the following statement:

"We are deeply saddened by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida that lead to the death of 17 students and staff. Some of us may be feeling pain, depression, and anger about this event. We may also be feeling fearful about our own well-being.

Several groups across the nation are planning student demonstrations in response to what happened in Parkland. We want you to know about these national events as they are being publicized to students by the media and outside organizations.

To date, at least three nationwide demonstrations are planned:
• # ENOUGH -National School Walkout, Wednesday March 14, 2018: Organized by the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group. They are calling to students, staff, parents, and allies to “walk out” for a period of 17 minutes in remembrance of those who died in the Parkland shooting.

• March for Our Lives, Saturday March 24, 2018: A march in Washington D.C. to call for school safety and gun control. This march may be replicated and involve local marches and local state capitol buildings throughout the nation.

• National High School Walkout on Friday April 20, 2018: There are mixed messages about the purpose of this event. One asks students to attend school and promptly walk out to sit outside and peacefully protest… and others recommend that students don’t attend school, wear orange and protest. (Please note, there is no school for students in ECASD on April 20th as it is a previously scheduled work day for teachers.)

As a District, we know that some students may wish to participate in these activities as a remembrance of the victims in Parkland, to protest gun violence, or to promote school safety.

We value the voice of our students and their desire to make those voices heard about making their schools and community safe.

Students have the right to participate in activities if their activities do not disrupt the instructional day or create an unsafe environment.

However, ECASD cannot endorse a student walkout. We are also bound by state law regarding student attendance at school and our responsibility to provide an instructional day.

We are working on how best to balance the competing considerations of these pending demonstrations/walkouts while maintaining an orderly and safe school day for students and staff.

In speaking with our principals and other ECASD administrators and teachers, local law enforcement, and regional superintendents, there is a shared concern about this event as a national public opportunity for an act of violence.

Keeping our students safe is a priority in our district.

As your child’s most important teacher, we ask that you talk with your children about the points outlined below. If they choose to participate, please communicate your expectation that they act in a respectful and safe manner.

If your child chooses to walk out on March 14th, the school staff will not interfere or try to keep him or her in the school.

Compulsory attendance laws allow parents to excuse their child from school ten times each year. Parents or guardians may choose to provide that excuse on the 14th. We will respect such an excuse.

Teachers will continue classroom instruction as planned and the instructional day will not be altered.

In compliance with District attendance procedures, minor students require parent or guardian approval for an absence to be counted as an excused one. Adult students need to communicate their approved absence with the attendance office.

Student absences without approval will be recorded as unexcused. Students who participate are expected to comply with all staff directives meant to avoid disruption to the school learning environment and to ensure student and staff safety.

The Eau Claire Area School District is committed to preparing our students to live creative, fulfilling and responsible lives. Our commitment to this core belief is important every day.

If you have questions or would like to talk with a school official, please contact your child’s principal."

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