Phoenix middle schoolers suspended for walkout in gun protest

Mar 1, 2018, 10:09 AM | Updated: 2:35 pm

PHOENIX — Dozens of students at a Scottsdale Unified middle school were suspended for staging a walkout from classes this week to honor Florida campus shooting victims.

School district officials said the 40 or so students who participated in Tuesday’s walkout received a one-day disciplinary action. Leaving campus without permission was against the code of conduct, officials said.

The 17-minute walkout was dedicated to the 17 students and teachers who were killed in a mass shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida.

Multiple Phoenix-area high schools have staged similar acts of protest and support in the weeks since the killings.

The policy, in part, read that “Elementary and Middle Schools are closed campuses from time of student drop-off to pick up. Consequences for violation are determined by the administration in accordance with Article B, Behavior.”

Article B, behavior included a stipulation “Students who fail to abide by this general behavioral expectation will be subjected to appropriate discipline, regardless of the conduct violates any specific provision of Article B.”


A first offense for closed-campus violations merited a one-day suspension for sixth-through-eighth graders.

Parents had been alerted to the possibility of suspension in an email from principal Christopher Thuman the day before.

Thuman acknowledged a walkout would show a message of solidarity.

“However, as the principal of Ingleside Middle School, I feel it is more important to have students remain in class and on campus no matter what issue may be in the news,” Thuman wrote.

Heidi Tessler, a mother to two students at the school, said one of her children was suspended, but disciplinary action isn’t the issue.

“The suspension didn’t matter to me,” Tessler said. “The issue isn’t whether the suspension is warranted. It is whether or not they are safe.”

The school, near 54th Street and Osborn Road in Phoenix, is part of Scottsdale schools.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Phoenix middle schoolers suspended for walkout in gun protest