This requires very little comment on my part other than to say: The school system I fund through my taxes has expressed itself exactly as it should, and exactly as I would have done, if it were my call to make. This letter appears verbatim, bolded lines reflecting my emphasis. Well done, FCPS.
- FCPS does not oppose, nor endorse, this call to action.
- School staff also should not be encouraging or discouraging student participation.
- FCPS students do not lose their constitutional protections “at the schoolhouse gate.”
- Students have the right to participate as long as their activities do not disrupt the instructional day.
A message from FAIRFAX COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Dear Parents and Guardians and FCPS staff,
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has received many inquiries regarding the participation of students in a planned national walkout on Wednesday, March 14, at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes in observance of the 17 lives lost in the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We recognize the desire of many students to lend their voice to this important national conversation.
Please note that FCPS does not oppose, nor endorse, this call to action. Additionally, school staff also should not be encouraging or discouraging student participation. Pursuant to Supreme Court rulings on the issue of student free speech rights, FCPS students do not lose their constitutional protections “at the schoolhouse gate.” As such, students have the right to participate as long as their activities do not disrupt the instructional day.
Recognizing the potential for significant disruption that could be caused by many students choosing to participate in the March 14 observance, principals at the middle, high, and secondary schools have been directed to work with students to find peaceful and safe opportunities to facilitate the observance while minimizing the disruption to the instructional day. Teachers are directed to remain in class with students who do not participate. Those students who go beyond the planned 17 minute observance on March 14, or exhibit inappropriate behavior, may be subject to discipline as outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities document.
For students in elementary schools, due to more limited staffing and to ensure the safety and security of students, age appropriate conversations or activities may be facilitated by the principal when necessary. As always, parents make the decision regarding student attendance and may withdraw their student from part of the school day if they so choose.
Thank you for your support as we seek to recognize the balance between our students’ rights and freedom of expression while ensuring their safety at all times.
Dr. Scott Brabrand
Fairfax County Public Schools