Education

Two SLO County school districts won't allow media coverage of gun violence walkouts

In a Feb. 21, 2018, photo, Colorado high school students lead a protest in support of the Parkland, Florida, shooting victims. Students around the nation will participate in a 17-minute walkout one month to the day after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In a Feb. 21, 2018, photo, Colorado high school students lead a protest in support of the Parkland, Florida, shooting victims. Students around the nation will participate in a 17-minute walkout one month to the day after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Glenwood Springs Post Independent via AP

Two San Luis Obispo County school districts are banning media coverage of student walkouts planned Wednesday in conjunction with national protests against gun violence.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District and Lucia Mar Unified School District announced on Tuesday they won't allow media to cover student-led events being held in solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students across the country on Wednesday will take part in demonstrations organized in the wake of a February shooting at the school that killed 17 students and staff members.

Many area high schools are facilitating the walkouts, which will last for 17 minutes at or near 10 a.m. — one minute for each student killed.

Other county districts, including San Luis Coastal Unified School District, will allow press coverage of events held on their campuses.

Amy Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Lucia Mar, said the district's campuses will be closed for the duration of the walkout, which will be occur at 10 a.m.

"Student safety remains our top priority," Jacobs wrote in an emailed statement. "We will be vigilant about our safety protocols and we are not opening our campuses during this event. Our schools will only be open to students and staff during that time."

Martha Clayton, a Paso Robles district spokeswoman, clarified the district's position on the demonstrations. She said the high school will adjust its schedule on Wednesday to allow students to participate in nationwide walkouts protesting gun violence.

School administrators will allow a longer nutrition period from 10 to 10:17 a.m. to allow students to gather in the quad area of campus.

Students will be penalized only if they miss class or don't show up for school, Clayton said.

Even so, media coverage is "not in the best interest of our students and staff," she said.

Paso Robles sophomore Gabriella Clayton, president of the Superintendent's Advisory Group, and senior Mason Seden-Hansen, president of the Progressive Club, said district and school administrators have been supportive of their plans.

Those gathered plan to observe a moment of silence and visit booths set up by student groups featuring voter registration information and memorializing those who were killed in Florida, among other displays.

"We value our education as much as anyone," Seden-Hansen said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden
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