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Texas school district threatens to suspend students who protest gun violence

Student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where moe than a dozen students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, walk past the house legislative committee rom, to talk to legislators at the state Capitol, regarding gun control legislation, in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.
Student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where moe than a dozen students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, walk past the house legislative committee rom, to talk to legislators at the state Capitol, regarding gun control legislation, in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. AP

Students all over the country have organized walkouts and protests after the mass shooting that killed 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

But the superintendent of Needville ISD, 20 miles southwest of Houston, has a warning for any students in his district who plan to take part.

If you join the protests, walkouts or demonstrations during school hours, get ready to serve a three-day, out-of-school suspension.

“Please be advised that the Needville ISD will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness!!” Needville Superintendent Curtis Rhodes said in a Facebook post on the Needville High School page on Tuesday. “Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for 3 days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension.”

The post had been shared more than 1,200 times as of Wednesday morning.

The Needville ISD is very sensitive to violence in schools including the recent incident in Florida. Anytime an...

Posted by Needville High School on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A national student walkout and march are planned for March 14. The Miami Herald reported that the Women’s March Network has called for a national student walkout at 10 a.m. that day. It is to last 17 minutes — one minute for every life lost in the Stoneman Douglas massacre.

The threat of suspensions at Needville came the same day that a Needville Junior High School student, 14, was arrested for allegedly making a terroristic threat on Snapchat.

According to KHOU, the text of the Snap read, “Don’t come to skoo tm @needvill.”

The post reportedly featured an image of a shotgun.

Responses to the school district’s threat of suspension for students who protest gun violence varied as widely as people’s stances on gun ownership.

“Walk out, kids. Get suspended. Sue the school district. Write your college essay about how you walked out to prove that your life was more important than being suspended,” one commenter said in response to Rhodes’ post. “There are adults out there that have your back, even if they’re not in charge of your school district.”

But the next comment read, “The reason there are so many problems in this world is because people see no problem breaking the rules or law. Way to go Needville HS.”

"I am a high school senior who three days ago was worried about which of my friends would receive flowers for Valentine's Day." ... Now, "my main concerns are funerals, gun control and whether or not I am going to be shot wherever I go," says Del

At least five students across North Texas were arrested within 24 hours of the shooting in Parkland for allegedly bringing a gun onto a school campus. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student, has been charged in connection with the Parkland shooting.

Rhodes said Needville ISD is sensitive to the violence in schools across the country, but said his schools should be focused on education, not political protests.

“A school is a place to learn and grow educationally, emotionally and morally,” Rhodes said in the Facebook post. “A disruption of the school will not be tolerated.”

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