National School Walkout at KPS drawing criticism from some parents

National School Walkout at KPS drawing criticism from some parents.

Students and teachers will honor the victims and survivors of the Parkland shooting during a national school walkout on Wednesday, but the event has some parents upset.

Michael Roberts, a parent of an elementary school student, said, “It's politics and they're too young to even understand what it's all about.”

Newschannel 3's Brittany Gray spoke with the Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice and some parents about their concerns after the district asked them to opt their children out of the event, instead of opting in.

One parent is concerned the district has its own political agenda and another worries his child will be bullied or teased if she doesn't participate, but both agree that KPS didn't handle this the right way.

The national school walkout day Wednesday, March 14, is stirring up some controversy as districts decide how to handle the event.

Last week Kalamazoo Public Schools sent a letter to parents that says each of its 26 schools will honor the victim with 17-minute moments.

A parent who did not wish to be identified has several children at the district's schools.

He said, “Why do they have to take them outside to do it? They could do it in class, have 17 minutes of silence rather than take them outside in what appears to be, at least to a lot of people, a photo opportunity.”

He says, while he supports the right to protest, this should be an event that students choose to participate in, not one they should have to opt out of.

He said, “There isn't even a pretense of neutrality anymore. The school district's picking a side in whatever protest is going on.”

KPS sent a note home asking parents to sign an opt-out form if their child was not going to participate.

The parent sent this email to Rice expressing his concerns.

He wrote, “We send them to obtain an education, not for you to use them as props.”

He said, “My gut reactions was that this was no longer the school district serving the needs of the children, it seemed more self-serving.”

Rice said, “This is a political moment in our history that our children participate in.”

Rice says there will be different events at each level that will be age-appropriate.

As for the parents we spoke with, one intends to keep his child home Wednesday and a second parent says he opted his children out.

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