Student First Amendment Rights, Student Protests & Action
Recently, some of our students have exercised their first amendment right and have walked out of class to protest the unsafe conditions in schools across our country that have resulted in the violent loss of student and staff lives. These protests have occurred at all five of our high school locations where students chanted, "We are students, we are victims, we are change!" Our students have acted in a safe and respectful manner in an effort to gain attention and achieve positive change.
Ann Arbor Public Schools fully respects and supports the first amendment rights of students and understands the desire many students have right now to raise their voices and express their thoughts regarding school safety concerns across our nation.
While fully supporting our students in sharing their thoughts, these expressions must be done in a way that doesn’t cause a disruption or interfere with the orderly conduct of learning or school activities per district policy. The quote shared by the court in the Tinker case provides a balanced assessment of student rights within the school environment:
But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason- whether it stems from time, place or type of behavior-materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.
I am proud of the actions of our students to draw attention to the issue of student safety in schools and applaud their maturity and insight in how they have responsibly raised their voices on a most critical issue that defines our time. Student voices are clearly key and critical in bringing attention to this important issue of improving student safety at school. This is a teachable moment for our country and we support our students in leading the way forward.