Student First Amendment Rights, Student Protests & Action

  • 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 important issues 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.

    We have elected to provide this support in developmentally appropriate ways at each level – elementary, middle and high school - and ask that students, parents, and staff specifically watch for communication from their school principal to better understand the specific plan for any planned student strike or walkout.  All students will be required to remain respectful and follow student guidelines for safety including remaining on campus. We invite parents who wish for their student(s) to leave school to make arrangements in advance of the day for their own student(s). We ask parents to please discuss with your child/children this topic of student protest and activism prior to any event so that students are well prepared in their thinking as they approach a national walkout day.

    Elementary Schools

    Parents of elementary students who wish for their students to walk out on a national student walkout day will need to come to the school to check their students out to participate as they choose.

    Secondary: Middle and High Schools

    We will respect the rights of all students, whether they choose to participate or not. No student will be required to participate in any student-led walkout. Thus, we work with our student leaders and coordinate supervision and procedures to assure student safety on our campuses. We will ensure a structured environment on our campuses for all students, whether they choose to participate or not.

    The role of our administrators and staff during a walkout will be to help keep our students safe. Thus, we coordinate supervision and procedures to ensure an orderly exit of the building, a designated gathering location, and an orderly return to the building. In all cases, students will be supervised, whether they choose to participate or not. We encourage all parents/guardians to speak with their student(s) about the messaging related to any anticipated student walkout, including ways in which students can constructively and safely express their viewpoints.

    Preschool and K-8 Schools

    Our Preschool and K-8 campuses work closely with their respective parent communities and will share specific plans for any national walkout day.