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Local students planning to join "Walk Out for Gun Safety" demonstrations

Julius A. White

Students plan to walk out of class at thousands of schools this morning for "Walk Out For Safe Schools Day.” The demonstration aims to demand stronger gun safety laws and to honor the 17 students and teachers killed in a school shooting in Florida last month.  

The walkout will begin at 10 a.m. local time and last 17 minutes, one minute for each person killed at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida. 

Baltimore and Howard County Schools are planning to allow participation on campus.  Anne Arundel, Harford and Frederick County Schools say they are not encouraging students leaving classes, citing safety concerns.  Harford school officials have said students could face discipline for leaving.

The ACLU of Maryland is giving public school kids a fact sheet on student walkouts.  The ACLU says it's responding to complaints regarding a letter from Harford County Schools suggesting that disciplinary action would be taken against students who participate in Wednesday's "Walk Out for Safe Schools."  The ACLU says schools should not punish politically motivated absences more severely than other unexcused absences.  The ACLU says it will stay in touch with students to make sure they were not wrongly disciplined based on their First Amendment-protected expression. 

While those demonstrations are going on, on Washington, DC, the House is scheduled to take up a school safety bill.  The measure would pay for threat assessments and to train students, teachers, school officials and law enforcement to detect early signs of violence.