By Superintendent Wade Smith: Dear parent(s)/guardian(s) of Walla Walla Public Schools’ students:
On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 14, 2018, we collectively grieved as news began to unfold about the tragedy in Florida. On that dark day, 17 students and staff lost their lives and more than a dozen people were injured at the hands of a lone gunman.
For Walla Walla Public Schools, this tragedy strikes at the core of everything we hold dear, the safety and well-being of our educational family. Schools should be safe places for students to thrive and for educators to inspire. This heartbreaking event reinforces our school board’s deliberate decision to emphasize and ensure safe and engaging schools for all students and staff as one of the four pillars of the district’s strategic plan.
On March 14, 2018, organizers around the country are calling for a National School Walkout at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes in order to address gun violence in schools and encourage enhanced legislation on the matter. Information on social media and websites has been encouraging students and teachers around the country to organize on that day, preferably via a brief walkout.
While public schools and their employees are discouraged from participating in political activism during the school day, Walla Walla Public Schools recognizes first amendment/free speech rights of students. History has taught us the importance of civic engagement and peaceful activism; many such activities having shaped the fabric of our great nation over its nearly 250-year history.
WWPS Age-appropriate Response to March 14 Walkout:
At the high school level, to ensure a safe and orderly environment, we have asked school administration to cooperate with potential participating students to identify a structured plan to be implemented during the 17-minute time frame. It is important to emphasize student participation on March 14 at 10 a.m. is optional as classroom instruction will continue as planned. This is not a district-sponsored activity. Students who choose to participate will not be marked absent/tardy as long as they adhere to the time-frame and behavioral expectations. Students who choose to participate will be expected to make up any work missed during the last few minutes of 3rd period and the first few minutes of 4th period. We encourage you to talk to your high school student about their potential participation. If a decision is made to participate, please reinforce the time, behavior, and missed-work expectations.
Middle School and Elementary School:
At the middle and elementary school levels, buildings will be reinforcing the importance of school safety. Schools will be scheduling their required monthly safety drill and/or holding brief assemblies to reinforce school safety and reporting measures with students.
To learn more about the district’s efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff, please contact us or visit our website: http://www.wwps.org/programs/safe-schools-program
Wade Smith, Superintendent of Schools