School CEO Rationalizes Violation of School Policy to Defend Disruptive Anti-Gun Protest
 
School CEO Rationalizes Violation of School Policy to Defend Disruptive Anti-Gun Protest
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   03.12.18

As most know, the youth arm of the far-Left Women’s March has organized an anti-gun school protest that will take place in countless public schools across the country this week. They’re urging students to leave school buildings at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14 for 17 minutes, which, counting the time it takes for students to exit and return to class, will disrupt classes for about 35 minutes. One school board member who understands the motives, implications, and problems of this political protest, Jeanette Ward in School District U-46, sent several questions to district CEO Tony Sanders, who posted his responses. This is the same Tony Sanders who “guided” his administration to “support” demonstrating students through myriad activities throughout the day.

What Sanders’ responses reveal is how “progressive” administrators rationalize violations of even board policy and student conduct policy in the service of “progressive” causes. Such rhetorical and ideological gymnastics must require some serious mental limbering up.

Here is the first of Ward’s questions:

[H]ow does the walkout not violate Board policy 7.196, where it says, “Student disruptions to the continuity of the instructional program on school district premises, or at school-related activities, will be viewed by the Board of Education, in consultation with Administration, as a serious matter and may be grounds for suspension and/or expulsion”? Isn’t a 10 am walkout a “disruption to the continuity of the instructional program”?

And now for Sanders’ first risible rationalization:

The full text of Board Policy 7.196 regarding student demonstrations which states “Peaceful and free expression of student ideas and opinions will be allowed as long as such expression does not disrupt the continuity of the instructional program. School personnel may reasonably regulate peaceful assembly and the time and place of petition circulation in order to avoid interference with the normal school operation. Student disruptions to the continuity of the instructional program on school district premises, or at school-related activities, will be viewed by the Board of Education, in consultation with administration, as a serious matter and may be grounds for suspension and/or expulsion.” In other words, policy supports administrators working along with students to “reasonably regulate.”

Let’s try to read this the way normal people and good attorneys might read it. Yes, board policy does, indeed, say that administrators may “reasonably regulate,” but Sanders apparently forgot to include the object of this reasonable regulation, so I’ll provide it: “In order to avoid interference with the normal school operation,“ “School personnel may reasonably regulate peaceful assembly” that “does not disrupt the continuity of the instructional program.” (emphasis added)

Non-disruption of the instructional program and non-interference with normal school operation are necessary pre-requisites for any type of student demonstration. It should go without saying that when students leave their classes, the “continuity of the instructional program” is disrupted.

Evidently not noting his contradiction, Sanders goes on to demonstrate that the walkout not only “disrupts the continuity of the instructional program” but also interferes with “normal school operation”:

Teachers not assigned to a classroom will be expected to supervise students. We are also sending support from central office to any school that requests assistance with supervision…. If every student in a classroom departs to participate in the walkout, then the teacher will move with their students to supervise only.  

After his odd and ungraceful leap over the type of event that school personnel may regulate (i.e., demonstrations that neither interfere with normal school operation nor disrupt the continuity of the instructional program), Sanders scurries on to dangle a glittering red herring that flutters like a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon in front of his audience by reciting irrelevant board policy about basic civil rights; education for a democracy; freedom of individual conscience, association, and expression; and, ironically, social responsibility:

Further we have other policies. 7.131 states, “the basic civil rights afforded individuals of a democratic society will be supported by U-46 personnel in their interactions with students.” Policy 7.130 says “The Board of Education seeks to educate young people in the democratic tradition, to foster recognition of individual freedom and social responsibility, and to inspire meaningful awareness of and respect for the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Freedom of individual conscience, association, and expression will be encouraged. Procedures will be observed both to safeguard the legitimate interests of the schools and to exhibit, by appropriate examples, the basic objectives of the democratic society as set forth in the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Illinois.”

Of course, all those goals and values are important, but prohibiting a walkout that inarguably disrupts the “continuity” of instruction and interferes with “normal school operation” does not conflict with the district’s civic mission or abrogate students’ rights to express themselves or associate.

In Ward’s second question, she asked whether the demonstration violates the student code of conduct that prohibits “a demonstration and mass protest,” which is defined as “willful disturbance of school activities through a march or rally that prevents the orderly conduct of school classes or activities.”

Sanders’ rationalization goes like this:

[W]e are working with the students to prevent the walkout from becoming a disturbance. We are allowing students who want to peacefully assemble to do so and working to ensure that students who do not want to participate are not kept from their classroom instruction. Should students engage in behavior that is disruptive, then consequences would be appropriate pursuant to the Student Code of Conduct.

So, according to sophist Sanders, exiting the school building during class neither “disrupts the continuity of” instruction, nor interferes with “normal school operation,”—even though supervision must be radically altered and increased—nor “disturbs school activities,” nor “prevents the orderly conduct of school classes or activities.” Did you hear that, kiddos? Leaving class does not disturb the orderly conduct of class.

Oh waaait, maybe Sanders doesn’t know what a “disturbance” is! A disturbance is any activity that interrupts the “peace” of, for example, a class. It’s an event that “interferes” with an activity. It’s defined as a “disruption.” How is exiting the school building during class not a “disturbance”?

In contrast, District 300 has made this far wiser decision:

[I]f a “walkout” type event does occur (e.g. moment of silence), it must happen within the building and with the prior consent of the school administration. Due to safety and supervision concerns we are discouraging any walkouts and will not support an activity that takes our students outside of the building. Doing so on a known date and time violates our safety polices and common sense. 

Take ACTION: Parents, contact your schools to find out what your board policy and student conduct code says about political demonstrations, and find out if students will be permitted to participate in this political demonstration without consequence or penalty. And consider keeping your children home if your school is permitting normal school activities to be disrupted, disturbed, or interfered with for Wednesday’s political demonstration.

Listen to this article read by Laurie:


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Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins became the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years in Deerfield High School’s writing center in Deerfield, Illinois. Her cultural commentaries have been carried on a number of pro-family websites nationally and internationally, and Laurie has appeared on numerous radio programs across the country. In addition, Laurie has spoken at the Council for National Policy and educational conferences sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition. She has been married to her husband for forty-four years, and they have four grown children and nine grandchildren....
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