Boise School District officials were hoping to convince students planning a high school walkout to attend a Statehouse rally during school hours Thursday to postpone the protest until after classes end for the day or hold it during lunch hour.
Nora Harren and Colette Raptosh, the Boise high school students behind the Idaho People for Unity campaign, are part of a committee organizing the walkout for students from Boise State University and area high schools to protest Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as education secretary, and to show support for education and for women’s civil rights. The students helped organize the well-attended Jan. 21 Idaho Women’s March.
District officials say students already have missed seven days of school because of snow, and are hoping to avoid having students miss more class time.
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The two students said one principal asked if they could move it to lunch hour. But they say the timing during the school day is meant to send a message.
“It is not going to change,” said Harren late Monday.
If students do leave their high schools, the district said it would invoke its standard policy for absences.
Students who walk out of their classrooms to attend the 10 a.m. rally at the Idaho Capitol without parental permission could receive an unexcused absence, which could lead to possible Saturday school, said Boise Superintendent Don Coberly. Eighteen-year-old students who have signed emancipation papers can excuse themselves from class.
Even with permission, school officials said, the absences would be considered unexcused. Students who have more than nine unexcused absences can lose credit for the class.
Coberly said the district is deciding whether to send notes home to parents in advance of the planned walkout.
“We want to give parents the opportunity to provide excused absences,” Coberly said. In some cases, the excuse can come after the event, officials said.
In the West Ada School District, if a parent gives permission, it is simply an absence.
“If a student leaves without parental permission, it is a truancy, which can result in an in-school suspension,” said Eric Exline, district spokesman. In-school suspension means a student spends time away from class in a separate area, according to West Ada’s policy manual.
No one is saying that the students can’t go to the rally.
“They have a right to protest,” said Coby Dennis, district deputy superintendent.
Raptosh, a junior at Capital High School, is hoping several hundred high school students show up at the rally, which she says will focus on “noninclusiveness.”
She said the organizers want to send a message to the school district that it’s not OK.
“It’s time for high-schoolers to get involved,” Raptosh said