Broward Schools superintendent: Nationwide walkout a ‘teachable moment’

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - As students in South Florida and across the country are preparing for a walkout that aims to call for change to the nation’s gun laws, Broward County’s school superintendent said the event provides a valuable educational experience for them.

Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to walk out of their classrooms at 10 a.m., Wednesday, one month after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen people were killed.

The walkout is expected to last 17 minutes, one minute for each shooting victim.

“Honestly, I think it’s just amazing how we can have an impact on the whole entire nation, and we feel like this could be an example that can make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again,” said Stoneman Douglas student Sam Hendler.

Broward Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie spoke with 7News about the matter during a School Board meeting, Tuesday morning. “It is a way for [students] to connect and provide relevance to all of the things they’ve learned, to bring about real action,” he said.

Runcie sent a letter home to parents informing them, while the department is not necessarily in favor of the walkout, the staff at public schools across the county will not interfere with the peaceful student-led protests. Moreover, the letter states, school principals and assigned staff will remain with students in a designated walkout special so that supervision is in place.

In his letter, Runcie also stated, “Such occasions are teachable moments during which students can demonstrate their First Amendment right to be heard.”

“We know that change in our society has always been led by our young people,” said Runcie. “I’m proud of them. I’m excited about it. I would certainly ask our students to be able to take these learnings and translate that into their schoolwork.”

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also sent a letter home to his students which read in part, “Should a student walkout or protest occur in one of our schools, it is the intent to allow the students to peacefully protest in compliance with School Board Policy 2240.”

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Florida Sen. Marco Rubio joined Stoneman Douglas Students and family members in working to pass laws to prevent future tragedies.

“The notion that we should do everything we can to put in place systems to identify and to stop someone before they commit an act of violence — be it a mass shooting or taking their own lives — is something we can all agree on,” Rubio said.

While many schools are supporting the walkout, several school districts across the country are discouraging it. One district in Texas told their students that participation in the walkout would get them a three-day suspension.

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