Minor consequences issued to students who walked out of first period

Staff Writer

The 448 documented students who walked out of first period last Wednesday will be required to attend an informal “detention” before or after school Wednesday and Thursday.
According to initial reports by the administration last Wednesday, over 500 students participated in the protest. Those who did not walk out during first period will not face any consequence.
Students will be able to choose between Wednesday, March 28 at 7:30 AM and 2:30 PM or Thursday, March 29 at 8:00 AM and 3:05 PM in the Big Theater. All students who walked out must attend one of these 30-minute sessions.
The session will be logged by the administration, but will not be entered in the Irvine Unified School District’s (IUSD) official student records.  
The meetings will serve as an opportunity for students to discuss what they learned from exercising their First Amendment rights, according to Assistant Principal Matthew Pate,
“Most of the kids had a good idea of why they were doing what they were doing,” Pate said. “We’re going to have them think about and engage with the experience [and] what they got from it.”
In order to protect the free speech of students on campus, as well as the instructional time and minority opinions of others, the administration needed to remain consistent in enforcing official district policy. 
“We have to address [walking out during class time] in some way,” Pate said. “Regardless of how any of us personally feel about the issue or the students involved, we have to apply our policies and rules and practices fairly. So if anybody walks out of class without permission, they get a consequence.”
The administration believes that the walkout proceeded smoothly and effectively.
“We had concerns about people coming on campus from off campus…[and] we had concerns that there might be students just fleeing campus. But none of that stuff transpired,” Pate said. “I think that the ones who participated in the march and the sit-in did it respectfully and I really couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The student-led walkout was held on March 14 in response to the February 14 shooting that killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The walkout was one of thousands across the nation that were held that day to advocate for stricter gun control.