El Segundo Unified School District has sought guidance from the California Department of Education and legal counsel to ensure students have appropriate options to participate in civic engagement in a safe manner, while also providing an alternative for students who are not interested in participating. Please rest assured that the middle school and high school principals have taken great care to not direct or advise students regarding a specific position of advocacy, and there is no greater political agenda being promoted by any adults. However, it is a best practice to provide students alternatives to avoid compromising their personal safety by walking out of school. The secondary students themselves planned specific age-appropriate, student-led activities to take place on campus at a designated time in a designated area. Such proactive measures keep all students safe and allow for freedom of speech and healthy civic engagement. The middle school and high school principals have each worked with student body leaders to plan positive methods for students wishing to express their sympathy for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and support safe schools. The plans are organic, coming from our students, as they discover their own voice through respectful dialogue as future citizens.
I encourage you to take time to discuss the situation with your child and reinforce that options are available to them. Under no circumstances should a student leave campus or class without permission, as they would be considered truant and may face school consequences. Dr. Jennifer Tedford, Principal of El Segundo High School and Dr. Melissa Gooden, Principal of El Segundo Middle School will be sending information directly to parents who have children who attend the school that highlight the various activities students have planned. Activities at the high school include an opportunity for students who are 16 years or older to pre-register to vote, students to express themselves through music, and students who choose to speak out. The middle school plans include forming a unity chain, reading names of the individuals who lost their lives, and making posters that represent each victim of the Parkland, Florida shooting. Both Center Street and Richmond Street School will not be participating. However, our elementary principals will continue to monitor and respond to student feelings, inquires, or concerns.
Every effort is being made to minimize the disruption of instructional time while providing time for students who may want to express themselves. We have amazing students attending our El Segundo schools and we anticipate our students will act appropriately. District personnel are assigned to each secondary school and will be present before, during, and after the scheduled event. We appreciate your support in the effort to provide a safe educational learning environment for all. Any specific questions about the planned activities should be directed to the school principals.
Melissa Moore, Ed.D.
El Segundo Unified School District
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