The Olympia School Board on Monday unanimously approved a resolution supporting “common sense gun safety legislation” — including enhanced background checks for assault weapon purchases and raising the age to purchase assault weapons to 21 — while opposing efforts to arm teachers.
The resolution comes as students across the country call for gun control measures following the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school.
In an email to parents Monday, school district officials wrote that some Olympia students are planning to take part in a 17-minute-long walkout March 14, part of a national effort to honor the 17 people killed in Parkland.
On Tuesday, students from across Washington gathered at the state Capitol to show their support for a bill that would restrict access to semi-automatic rifles.
“(E)vents such as these are student-led events and not school-sponsored activities...,” the district’s email noted, adding that classes will continue on their normal schedule during the walkout and students who participate may be marked as absent.
The ACLU of Washington last week published a two-page guide to students’ rights when it comes to political speech and protest. It said schools can treat walking out in protest as an unexcused absence but cannot suspend a student as punishment for a first-time unexcused absence under state law.
Schools also can’t punish students who walk out more harshly than they do students with other types of unexcused absences, according to the ACLU of Washington.
A student-led march is planned for later this month in Olympia to show solidarity with school shooting victims. The March For Our Lives in Olympia is scheduled for March 24 — a Saturday — from the Capitol steps to Sylvester Park, and it coincides with marches in Washington, D.C., and other large U.S. cities.
One of the Olympia march organizers is Madelyn Olson, the daughter of Brady Olson, the North Thurston High School teacher who tackled a student with a gun at the school in 2015.