Shawnee Mission schools apologize for censoring student protests

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Shawnee Mission School district has issued a public apology after it says students at some schools complained they were censored during protests.

The protests were on April 20 over gun policies in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

School officials said events at Hocker Grove and Shawnee Mission North didn't go as planned and some students expressed concerns about censorship after the events.

The district apologized and said it is reviewing its policies to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. 

The full letter sent home to parents can be read below:

Dear Parents and Students,
On April 19, we communicated to our parents and students that district administrators were working with student leaders at several of our school buildings in anticipation of the April 20, 2018, National School Walkout. That collaboration stemmed from many of our students expressing a desire to honor students from Parkland, Florida, and to support reforms for safer schools. Our district encourages active students, active involvement, and active citizens. And, while this collaboration was not an endorsement by the district of any political positions, it was an endorsement of our independent and resilient students.

Since the walkouts, we’ve learned of incidences at a few of our school buildings that we, as a district, pledge to review and learn from. Most of the student-led walkouts were successful events that served as an important lesson for our students and communities. With those successful lessons, came less successful lessons – lessons from which our staff and administration must learn from to be better prepared for the future.  

During the last Board of Education meeting, a student from Shawnee Mission North explained her concerns about censorship and the events that unfolded during their walkout. Dr. Southwick committed that night to talk with students, parents and administrators to review what happened, and more importantly to figure out what the problems were so they don’t happen again. In making that promise, Dr. Southwick apologized for anything that resulted in student censorship.

District administrators have initiated that dialogue by meeting with students and parents to make sure any issues that arose on April 20 are addressed and that those issues do not arise again. As a district, we apologize and commit to do right by our students. We value your voices and we value the lessons we can learn from your voices. After this review, we further pledge to provide our findings and set forth our plan for better supporting those voices.

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