Guyer High School students petition to avoid punishment ahead of gun violence walkout

Guyer High School students petition to avoid punishment ahead of gun violence walkout

Guyer High School students petition to avoid punishment ahead of gun violence walkout
March 07
17:13 2018

A petition created by students at John H. Guyer High School in Denton to encourage the school administration to allow them to protest gun violence without punishment reached over 400 signatures as of Wednesday.

Students plan to walk out of school on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The walkout is in response to a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead.

“As a former curriculum coordinator for Denton ISD, I strongly urge [officials] to allow DISD students to join people across the country in asking legislators to make our schools safer by passing sensible gun restrictions,” Denton resident Joan Curtis said in a comment on the petition.

The petition is in anticipation of retribution from the school following some Texas districts stating student walkouts would be met with suspension. Needville ISD near Houston warned students that walkouts would be met with three-day suspensions.

Guyer High School students “would like to work with the administration to ensure this demonstration goes smoothly,” the petition says, and asks “Dr. Perry and the Board of Trustees to refrain from issuing any sort of punishment in relation to the peaceful use of our First Amendment rights.”

“Dr. Perry” refers to Guyer High School Principal Shaun Perry.

The petitioner’s goal to get 1,000 signatures was about halfway complete at the time of publishing. 

Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson did not respond to requests for a comment.

Many of the online comments on the petition are positive and agree high school students should be allowed to protest peacefully without punishment. Denton resident Brittney Wesson commented that she understands why students want to participate but added that some Guyer students are doing this to get out of school.

“I’ve seen it on almost every single [Snapchat] story, ‘If you like skipping school sign this petition,’” Wesson said in an online comment. “What these kids are doing isn’t legal. Students are LEGALLY OBLIGATED to attend school and walking out and potentially making yourself even more [vulnerable] to incidents and shootings won’t help.”

Theater sophomore Katie McGinn said she thinks it is important to get the youth involved in government and politics.

“I think it’s great that students are speaking up and having a voice, no matter how old or young you are,” McGinn said.

Some parents have also signed the petition.

“As a parent, [I] support and appreciate the children doing their civic duty and being involved in decisions that affect them,” Denton resident Dawn Taylor commented.

Student walkouts protesting gun violence have occurred since mid-February following the Florida shooting. Two national protests are in the works as well: the March for Our Lives on March 24 and the National School Walkout on April 20.

Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree released a statement on the agency’s social media accounts Feb. 27 on how the sheriff’s office will respond to an active shooter.

“We do not stage and wait for SWAT, we do not take cover in a parking lot and we do not wait for another agency,” Murphree said. “We go in and do our duty. We go in to engage and stop the shooter and save lives.”

Denton ISD officials met Feb. 13 to discuss campus safety after a local middle school was placed on lockdown. Denton police investigated multiple potential threats in February.

At the school board meeting, Denton ISD superintendent Jamie Wilson said each middle school and high school in Denton has a school resource officer and metal detectors.

Denton and other Texas public schools practice several kinds of drills throughout the year including lockdown drills, fire drills and tornado drills to prepare for these situations.

Schools work with the Texas School Safety Center, which is tasked with providing research, training and technical assistance regarding school safety initiatives and mandates to K-12 schools and junior colleges in the state.

Featured Image: Courtesy DRC

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Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

Senior News Writer

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