Canfield students prohibited from participating in National Walkout


Letter to Parents

Letter to Parents and Guardians (3-8-18)

March 8, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

In the wake of the tragic events in Florida, there is an unprecedented amount of attention on school safety. Our students, faculty, families, and administration have been continually engaged in conversations regarding our individual thoughts and feelings, our current and potential procedures, and what has become a national outcry for legislative change. These conversations will surely continue.

The National School Walkout on March 14, 2018, at 10:00 a.m., has received paramount attention on both national and local news as well as on social media. This situation presents school leaders and parents with a complex scenario. Initially, we look at the intentions of our students. Those who wish to participate are genuine in their belief that this might lead to substantive change.

However, it is our duty and responsibility to keep our youngsters safe. We struggle with the thought of them leaving their buildings on a well-advertised day and time and may be inadvertently placing themselves in danger should they elect to participate. We are compelled by law to monitor attendance and we do not permit students to leave school without parental excuse for their safety. Additionally, the unpredictability of a large group of students leaving the building and the potential for this to result in what would be deemed a “material and substantial disruption” to the school day. A disruption is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and may result in disciplinary actions for students who participate.

So how do we encourage our students to have a deserved voice locally, at the state level, and at the national level while protecting their safety to the best of our ability and upholding the laws of our state and our nation? Sadly, the answer is far from being simple or clear which is why you have likely seen grave disparity in the response of local school districts.

We pride ourselves in Canfield in doing what is best for our students. With that basic core value as our guiding principle, we humbly recommend and ask for your support to encourage our students to remain in their buildings on March 14th.

Educationally,

Alex G. Geordan, Superintendent

Michael Moldovan, CHS Principal

Dave Mullane, CHS Asst. Principal

Judd Rubin, CVMS Principal

Michael Flood, CVMS Asst. Principal

Travis Lavery, C.H.Campbell Principal

Joe Maroni, Hilltop Principal

By Kalea Hall

and Amanda Tonoli

news@vindy.com

CANFIELD

Buses blocked the entrances and exits at Canfield High School on Wednesday and a police officer stood outside when the National School Walkout protest against gun violence started at 10 a.m.

No students walked outside of the school, but instead went into an auditorium to acknowledge the walkout.

Several hundred of them also stayed home.

The district saw high absenteeism with 400 students out of 1,000 at the high school staying home Wednesday and later attributed it in a news release to “the hysteria being created by outside forces” including local news coverage and social media.

A week prior, leaders of Canfield School District, including Superintendent Alex G. Geordan, sent a letter to parents explaining that students could face disciplinary action if they actually walked out of school.

The letter dated March 8 cites “... the unpredictability of a large group of students leaving the building and the potential for this to result in what would be deemed a ‘material and substantial disruption’ to the school day.”

It adds: “A disruption is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and may result in disciplinary actions for students who participate.”

School leaders previously said they felt supporting or refuting the walkout was too political.

In the letter sent to parents, school leaders noted a concern for the safety of students on walkout day.

“We struggle with the thought of them leaving their buildings on a well-advertised day and time and may be inadvertently placing themselves in danger should they elect to participate,” the letter reads.

The district, however, also posts its high school bell schedule on its website along with an events calender.

While district spokeswoman Renee English said in a statement, “It is our hope that people will stop putting fear into our students so that they can enter our buildings ready to learn,” students gave a different account for the absenteeism.

“I feel that the letter from the superintendent and administrators instilled a level of fear and uncertainty in both students and parents that really wasn’t there before its release,” said Vince Patierno, a junior. “That uncertainty led to many students and parents of students wanting to avoid the situation and walkout all together by staying home.”

At the same time, Patierno also credited the administration for “taking the time to speak to any student who may have concerns they wish to voice.”

Contributor: Billy Ludt, staff reporter.

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