The Morning Call reported Friday that a Pennsylvania high school gave over 200 students detention for walking out of class to protest of gun violence earlier in the week. Thousands of students across the country participated in the nationwide walkout Wednesday, one of several anti-gun protests to sweep the country since the February shooting of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“About 225 students, including a few who were accompanied by their parents, chose to walk out of school to hold their own activity," Pennridge School District Superintendent Jacqueline A. Rattigan said in a statement. "Those who did so unaccompanied by a parent will face consequences, which were outlined in advance. The remainder of our student body who attended school on Wednesday stayed in their classrooms accompanied by teachers."
At the time of the walkout, the high school was holding an in-house assembly to commemorate victims of the Parkland shooting. Families had been told ahead of time that the event would feature 17 minutes of silence, one for each person who died in the Parkland shooting, and furthermore, that any students who skipped the assembly would be subject to disciplinary action. Rattigan called the assembly a "moving experience for those who participated."
District public relations coordinator Joe Ferry said that students who walked out will receive one Saturday detention if it was their first offense, and two if it was their second.
The Pennridge students weren't the only ones in Pennsylvania to face disciplinary action as a result of participating in the walkout. Twenty-one students at Brandywine Heights High School were suspended for a day when they skipped out on a symposium on gun safety Wednesday and instead gathered by the flagpole to protest. At Lindenhurst High School in New York, over two dozen students were briefly suspended for walking out, according to Reuters, although those suspensions were later reduced to detentions.
A stranger situation unfolded at Hilliard Davidson High School in Ohio, where a senior was suspended for remaining in class during walkout. Students at Hilliard were told that they could either join the protest or, alternatively, go to the study hall. But one student who wanted to remain apolitical felt that either of those two options was tantamount to making a political statement, so he simply stayed in his classroom alone. However, students aren't allowed to be at school unattended, and he was given a one-day suspension as a result, Fox News reports.
The Parkland shooting reinvigorated the national debate around gun laws and, more specifically, gun violence in schools. A report released Monday found that guns are now the third-leading cause of death for American children.
Some responded to the Parkland massacre by calling for stronger gun laws. They include a handful of students who survived the shooting and, in the weeks that followed, helped organize the March for Our Lives, a mass protest planned for March 24th. Several of those students gained national recognition for aggressively questioning lawmakers, most notably Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, at a gun violence town hall after the shooting. On Tuesday, a different group of activists placed 7,000 pairs of children's shoes on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, one for each child killed by a gun since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
Some supporters of gun rights, including President Trump, reacted to Parkland by calling for teachers to be armed. Those calls were somewhat undercut when, on the same day in March, two armed teachers accidentally fired their guns at school, in one case injuring three students in the process.
Ferry said Friday that several students who participated in the Pennridge walkout went to Dunkin' Donuts afterwards, and will face additional consequences.