Jay Sandt's Feb. 28 letter to the editor states that Fargo-Moorhead schools, like some other Minnesota schools, should restrict students from leaving school to protest, even if they have parental permission. This view, although widely held, contradicts existing protections.
I'm unaware how administrators could "restrict" a student from leaving the school. The ACLU states that students can be punished for skipping class to protest, the same as if they were skipping class for any other reason. What the school cannot do, however, is punish students more harshly just because they skipped school for a protest or in reaction to the content of the protest.
But I must ask: does Mr. Sandt disapprove of this walkout simply because it is a walkout? Or, does he disapprove of this walkout because it is advocating for increased gun laws? Based on his past letters, Sandt is clearly very conservative. Would he mind as much if they were walking out to protest abortion? While I cannot be sure, I assume he would not.
Punishing students more harshly for their views and actions regarding gun control would set a dangerous precedent. Schools are the last place where administrators or politicians should be pushing their political agendas. The ACLU also states that in the 1969 Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines, it was decided that "students do not shed their Constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
It is important to remember that students do not suddenly become real, sentient people at age 18. Their beliefs and opinions are as valid as any other demographic's views are. And, Mr. Sandt, as to why you aren't hearing about any summer protests, some things just can't wait.
Zikmund lives in Pisek, N.D.