Decatur Public Schools won't punish walkout students

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) — While districts from Rhode Island to Texas are promising punishments up to suspensions for student walkouts, Decatur Public Schools are taking a different approach.

“We don’t foresee any students having repercussions for discipline,” said assistant superintendent Michael Dugan. “All of our student body has been very thoughtful, very concerned.”

Dugan has been on the front lines of working with the students organizing the demonstrations, particularly the one at Eisenhower High School.

“One of the options we’re going to have — inside the auditorium, some of our students put together a presentation that’s going to honor those who lost their lives in Florida,” he said.

But for some students, the specter of last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida will require a bigger statement.

There are thousands of planned walkouts across the country Wednesday, each starting at 10 a.m. local time and lasting until 10:17 — one minute for each person killed in the shooting.

Activist group Empower has the number of walkouts listed at 2853 and counting as of Monday night — and the demonstrations in Decatur aren’t even on the list yet. The group lists four other walkouts in central Illinois: Rochester, Clinton, Oakwood and Danville.

But no matter how many kids walk out Wednesday, Dugan says the district will honor their demonstration — provided they abide by guidelines meant to keep them safe.

Students will be required to stay on school property and will need to sign in after leaving the building. Those students will then wait for the next class period to start before rejoining their peers. MacArthur High School will play host to similar demonstrations and will follow the same protocol.

“This is something we think is a good thing,” Dugan said. “[It’s a good thing] they honor their citizenship and find ways to express themselves.”