School Districts Prepare for Planned Student Protests

Little Rock, Ark. - Students and teachers across the country and here in Central Arkansas are planning their move. 

Wednesday a nationwide school walkout is planned to protest gun violence and raising awareness to school safety. 

"These young people, their voice and their thoughts do matter," Little Rock Superintendent Mike Poore said at a press conference Tuesday.  

Poore has been supportive of the movement. 

"I also believe that this is an opportunity. A real teaching moment for our schools and our students to understand what the protest is about," he said. 

Several districts including Little Rock, Conway and Pulaski County Special School District have worked with student leaders to allow their campuses to participate in the demonstration, but in a peaceful, productive and safe way. 

"The farther a student strays away from the campuses, which is what we want to try to eliminate, then it becomes a bigger safety issue," Poore said. 

All high school campuses for LRSD and PCSSD will have school sanctioned demonstrations. We're told every campus will do something a little different, including balloon releases, walkouts to the hallways and moments of silence to remember the 17 Parkhill victims. 

Conway High School will host a letter writing campaign to state and local legislators during the students' lunch breaks. 

These demonstrations are happening the same week as the first Arkansas School Safety Commission meeting. 

The program was designed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to find what's working and where there are gaps in school safety around the state. 

"Make sure our kids and our faculty and all school personnel are in safer environments," Dr. Cheryl May, the director of the Criminal Justice Institute said. She is a 

A goal for the commission and everyone participating in the protest. 

Poore hopes there's enough structure to keep students safe, but enough leeway so students don't feel their voices are stifled. 

"I believe that our kids will do a good job tomorrow," Poore said.  

More police and school staff will be on Little Rock High School campuses during the planned walk out at 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

Little Rock, PCSSD and Conway schools say if a student participates outside of the school sanctioned demonstrations, they'll face consequences consistent with any other absence or truancy. 

For Conway, that means Saturday school.

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