Bentonville Student Suspended after Handing Out Walkout Flyers

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) -- A Bentonville West student has been suspended after passing out flyers promoting a school walkout in remembrance of mass shooting victims.

Summerlin Hutson, a senior, received an in-school suspension Tuesday after handing out the flyers and is also suspended Thursday and Friday.

Hutson was handing out flyers promoting a walkout Wednesday in remembrance of those 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. 

"There's not a lot of options for us to advocate for ourselves politically, and this is a political event, and I think it's important for students to feel that their voices are being heard," Hutson said.

The Bentonville Schools has a policy which states that a student must wait three days for approval before handing out flyers, according to the student, who admits that she did not wait for the approval.

Hutson said that other students hand out flyers all the time without permission.

Hutson plans to attend Wednesday's walkout, and said if she gets in trouble for the walkout she will contact the ACLU and see if there is action she can take.

The Bentonville School Board voted Monday to give detention to students who participate in the walkout and count them as absent.

Hutson's father, John Hutson, supports his daughter and said the the school's disciplinary action action against her is a violation of her First Amendment rights.

"I'm really proud of her for taking the lead in it, and I would think that everybody would be," he said. "We're trying to raise these kids to be critical thinkers and articulate adults, and I think that's what she's doing."

Leslee Wright, communications director for Bentonville Schools, released a statement.

"We recognize the immeasurable loss suffered in Parkland as well as in other towns across the nation. The safety of our students is our top priority and we know the Bentonville Board of Education stands firmly behind us in that commitment. Monday night, after thoughtful discussion, the board voted to uphold school policy regarding unexcused absences and we respect that decision." 

Students across the nation are planning walkouts in honor of the Stoneman Douglas victims.

Prosecutors announced today they are seeking the death penalty against the 19-year-old shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

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