BRIDGEWATER, NJ - With the one-month anniversary of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, approaching, many students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School are preparing to participate in the national high school walk out.
Students are planning to walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and will read the names of the 17 people who lost their lives in the tragic shooting, followed by a moment of silence.
Questions have been raised as to whether there will be an disciplinary action taken for students who walk out of their classes during those 17 minutes.
Bridgewater-Raritan High School Mark Morrell released a letter to parents regarding the walk-out and the support being given to students who wish to participate, as well as any disciplinary action that may be taken.
"I have been asked by students and parents to support the walk-out, and I have been asked by students and parents not to support the walk-out," he said in the letter.
In the letter, Morrell said the administration met with student leadership, and offered to provide time during each student's lunch period to express their views in a manner that would not interfere with class time.
"Ultimately, student leadership decided that it was important to stand with the national movement," he said in the letter.
Morrell said the district has coordinated with the Bridgewater Township Police to provide extra officers on campus on March 14 for the safety of students walking out, and parents and members of the public will not be allowed at the campus on that morning.
"Teachers have been instructed to remain in their classrooms and to continue with instruction for remaining students," he said in the letter. "Walkout participants will receive no credit for any work missed, including tests, quizzes and other classwork. In addition, students who miss more than half the class (20 minutes), will be assigned a cut of class as discussed in the student handbook."
Morrell said in the letter that this will be the procedure in this instance, and any future walk-outs after the national one on March 14 will lead to a Saturday detention or a day of in-school suspension, a cut of class assigned, a zero for class work and an absence toward the attendance policy.
"In 2008, just such a series of events unfolded to protest educational funding and we assigned every participant in the walk-out detention," he said. "I suspect there will be additional walk-outs in some schools across the nation, and we will take a hard line against any additional actions that disrupt the orderly operation of our school."
Morrell said the school has not endorsed the walk-out, but respects students for standing up for their beliefs, as well as the rights of the students who do and do not choose to participate.
"These are challenging times," he said in the letter. "These recent events make all of us feel vulnerable in public places, but these matters are best discussed with classroom teachers, counselors and through communication with legislators. We as a school community are all concerned with school safety."