Madison Students to Protest Gun Violence With Wednesday Walkout; Administrators Say Students Have Right to Demonstrate

Madison High School senior and walkout organizer Peri Munter speaks on gun violence and the First Amendment right to protest at a Feb. 27 Board of Education meeting. Credits: Lindsay Ireland

MADISON, NJ – Wednesday is the one-month anniversary of one of the most deadly school shootings in U.S. history. The Valentine’s Day killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that took the lives of 17 people sent shockwaves throughout the nation. 

Though Madison is more than 1,000 miles from Parkland, Fla., the calls for governmental policies that increase school safety became louder in the days and weeks following this tragic event, transforming into screams that reverberated up the east coast and into the classrooms at Madison High School. 

Organized by Madison High School senior Peri Munter, about 200 Madison High School students—one-quarter of the student population—will take part in a Wednesday morning walkout to advocate for gun control.  

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“This walkout is being organized nationally to unite high schools and other schools across America under a common goal of asking Congress to take action to prevent more gun violence within our own schools,” Munter said. 

“Our movement to promote safer schools will not conclude at 10:17 a.m. on the morning of March 14 as participants file back into class. It will end when walkouts like this are no longer necessary.

“Our movement will not end until we have formed a future that is free from our present fears and that guarantees the safety of every American from the public health crisis of gun violence.”

Here is a video of her full speech, given at a Feb. 27 Board of Education meeting:

More of Munter's comments can be found here

Superintendent Mark Schwarz said district officials will refer to the event as a demonstration rather than a walkout. Wednesday's walkout is part of a national movement of student against gun violence. Young learners at schools throughout the country will join Madison High School students in this post-Parkland protest.

In a March 9 letter to parents, Robertson offered his feelings on students' First Amendment right to demonstrate:

“Consistent with our mission of empowering students to ‘contribute positively to the world, the administration in the Madison High School district strongly believes that it is essential to support our students’ desire to express their concerns on this topic and to provide them with the opportunity to advocate for the safety and well-being of students throughout the nation.” 

In his statement, Robertson said he applauded his students “for taking action on this critically important issue facing our society, and for working collaboratively with the administration to organize this demonstration in a safe and meaningful way.” 

When dozens of students showed up at the Feb. 27 board meeting to discuss the walkout, Schwarz said administrators would allow students to leave class on March 14 in a show of solidarity. 

He said he would work with district officials and law enforcement to address possible safety concerns associated with the walkout.

The school schedule will be adjusted so students can take part in the walkout during lunch without missing class time. Those who choose to participate will still have time to eat before classes resume, according to Robertson.

“Students and parents should be aware that this event has been approved and is being coordinated by the school administration in order to promote peaceful student participation in the civic process in a manner that does not disrupt our school day,” Robertson said in his letter. 

Here is a look at some of the security measures that will implemented during Wednesday’s walkout, per Robertson’s letter:

  • A strong police presence throughout the demonstration.
  • Police may divert traffic away from high school property, Robertson said, as a way to ensure students’ safety and keep out any unwanted visitors. This recommendation was originally made by Madison High School senior and walkout organizer Peri Munter.
  • No parents, visitors or relatives of students can attend the demonstration. 

Madison High School students are not the only ones speaking out against gun violence. Students at Madison Junior School will also take part in their own walkout on Wednesday morning. 

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