Administration cites school policy in punishing protesters

Students will receive Saturday school for their involvement in a nationwide protest


Sudents gathered at the walkout with Principal Jim Jones watching from the back. (right)

By Linnaea Kavulich, Scappoose High School

Students who participated in Wednesday’s walkout are set to attend Saturday school in the coming weeks, as per school policy regarding unexcused absences.

SHS policy states that students will receive an unexcused absence when they miss class for more than 10 minutes. The typical consequence for an unexcused absence is Saturday school, which is a three hour period where students are expected to do homework or other quiet activities.

According to Principal Jim Jones, Saturday school is relatively infrequent.

“We don’t typically have a lot of discipline problems here where we’d have to have Saturday school on a consistent basis. Usually what we do is we’ll wait until there’s [enough students to fill it.]”

Students in a social studies class said that they would rather have Saturday school for something they believed in than to get out of it while the other students went.

Jones has a similar interpretation.

“ . . . There are people that are advocates of civil disobedience that say the consequence is part of it . . . It sends a strong statement: I’m willing to have that consequence because this is that important to me.” Jones said when speaking of the different ways in which other school districts have handled the walkout.

Some students have raised questions regarding the actions of St. Helens High School in permitting students to protest without consequence.

“I can confirm that no one was punished,” said St. Helens junior Mackenzie Trainer, “It occurred during Academic Achievement Period (AAP) and if anyone left school grounds during that time period they would have been punished as [administration] saw fit.”

“They were in a situation where their students were on a release time and they weren’t actually on class time,” said Jones of SHHS.

Scappoose was one of the only schools in Oregon to issue punishments for students that chose to walk out.

“I’m not upset about getting Saturday school. I knew what I was getting into and so did everyone else,” said Senior Mikayla Price. “We stood up for what we believed in despite punishment, which I feel shows that this is an issue that we all felt passionately about and that we weren’t going to let a punishment stop us from speaking out.”

“Each school district has done this differently . . . There are places that are under fire because they had students that left class unexcused and they [didn’t do] anything and there’s places that are under fire because they had students that left unexcused and they did do something,” said Jones on the subject of student punishment.

Jones stressed consistency in punishment, stating that students who participated Wednesday would be subject to the same consequences as the students who walked out in November 2016.

The staff was asked to remain neutral through the event, so as not to impact learning or influence the opinions of students.

When talking with a student photographer headed to report on the walkout, Interim Superintendent Ron Alley said, “I hope you don’t have anything to take pictures of.”

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