March 8, 2018
Dear Students and Families,
The horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, has profoundly affected communities
across the country, and many young people feel spurred to take action.
Young people, through actions like civil disobedience and peaceful protest, have
been at the forefront of many movements and struggles for justice in our City’s
and our nation’s history, and we recognize that many of our own students may
similarly decide to engage in forms of discourse and protest in response to the
tragic event in Parkland.
We have been made aware that as part of their civic engagement, some students
are planning to participate in what is being called the “#ENOUGH National
School Walkout” on Wednesday, March 14. The walkout is scheduled to be 17
minutes long to commemorate the 17 Parkland victims who lost their lives.
While we support students participating in civic engagement and exercising of
their First Amendment rights, we also want to remind you of our attendance
procedures, and inform you of additional measures the New York City
Department of Education will be taking to help ensure the safety of students and
Participating in a walkout like the one planned is an individual decision that we
encourage families to discuss together. For anyone who participates in the
walkout, it is important to do so in a safe and respectful manner. Staff members
from each school will be assigned to be present outside their school buildings
during the walkout to help ensure safety and order.
If your child is planning to participate, please notify your school by following
your school’s regular attendance protocol. For middle and high school students,
walking out for 17 minutes and returning to school will be considered cutting
class, not an absence. Students will not face consequences beyond a notation in
their student attendance record and a conversation with an administrator. Please
be aware that regular classroom schedules will continue as usual.
If middle and high school students are planning to attend events after the 17
minutes, they will be considered absent from the classes they miss. With parent
or guardian permission, this will be an excused absence. Without parent or
guardian permission, this will be an unexcused absence. If you have any
questions about your school’s attendance protocol, please call your school’s
Elementary school students who wish to participate in the walkout need to be
signed out by their parents or guardians. For students of all ages with nurses or
paraprofessionals required for safety, parents or qualified staff members must be
willing to accompany students who wish to participate in the walkout. If a parent
or qualified staff member is not willing to walk out and accompany the student,
the student must remain inside the school. Schools must ensure that the
individual needs of each student are taken into account and addressed at all
We know young people can and do make a difference, and many school staff
members will be speaking with students about their individual reactions to this
event, including the accompanying calls for action and civic engagement, in their
classroom and school communities. As part of our Civic Education for All
initiative, we are encouraging teachers to facilitate opportunities for students to
have respectful discussions on current events in greater depth, and from multiple
points of view. For a list of civic engagement resources and other information,
please visit http://schools.nyc.gov/safety.
Schools must promote safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environments for
all students. We commend all students and staff members, who help make our
schools safe, respectful places where all students can learn free from the threat of
Thank you for your partnership.