Update: The Shawnee Mission School District reached a settlement with the ACLU on April 18, 2019. The settlement agreement calls for First Amendment training for all district administrators; policy language to clarify the rights of students to organize non-school sponsored events; and policy language which clarifies the first-amendment rights of student journalists. The school district will also apologize to the student-plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
A First Amendment lawsuit organized by the ACLU has revealed that a Kansas school district engaged in a coordinated effort to prevent students from advocating for gun control on National School Walkout Day in April 2018.
A recently drawn-up settlement agreement in the case shows that “in advance of the [Walkout Day] protests, [Shawnee Mission School District administrators] developed a coordinated, multi-site plan to adjust the focus of the planned student protests so that the protests would generically emphasize ‘school safety’ and honoring student shooting victims, and would avoid political controversies including gun reform.”
Following a scheduled event on Walkout Day, many Shawnee Mission North High School students stayed outside to protest the school’s decision to restrict their speech. School administrators intervened, tearing up the speeches of students who were speaking and confiscating the cameras of others filming the protest. Area journalists were also physically barred from covering the event. At Hocker Grove Middle School, school administrators disrupted a similar, peaceful protest with student speakers.
Please contact Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Michael Fulton through one of the channels below and give him the following message, personalized to your liking:
I don’t want to see the Shawnee Mission School District and administrators at its assorted schools restricting the free speech of students again. I am absolutely disgusted that students were prevented from discussing school shootings and gun laws on Walkout Day last year. This is THEIR lives that are at stake and what have YOU and other SMSD administrators done to prevent the next troubled student from gaining access to firearms? Absolutely nothing is what! If you don’t have the courage and integrity to advocate for laws that will give the next student in crisis help instead of guns, that’s one thing. But DO NOT stop your students from stepping up to solve this problem themselves. I will be watching your actions this year very closely and want to see you respect students’ right to discuss the out-of-control gun violence that threatens their lives. If you do not, I will be advocating for new leadership for SMSD which values the lives and leadership of its students over gun fetishism.
Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Michael Fulton
Phone: (913) 993-6200
Once you have contacted Superintendent Fulton, fill out the three fields below and click the orange banner to report taking action!