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Getting answers: Can schools discipline students who walk out? - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Getting answers: Can schools discipline students who walk out?

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LAFAYETTE, La. -

With students across the country planning to walk out of class Wednesday morning in honor of victims of the Parkland school shooting, questions have arisen regarding protests on school campuses. 

Although the Lafayette Parish School Board voted to reverse the superintendent's plan, which would have allowed students to participate in different activities to honor the dead, some students still plan to walk out. Students want to know what their rights are and how much schools can discipline them for a peaceful protest. 

"We have the right to protest; it's not really a protest. It's a silent walk out and we're not hurting anybody," says Anesha Vincent, a senior at Lafayette High School. 

The American Civil Liberties Union supports those students. The organization's Louisiana chapter sent a letter to school administrators around the state, saying students cannot be disciplined for expressing their beliefs. You can read the letter by clicking here

"The thing to remember is the students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate. They do have freedom of expression and freedom of religion and all of the five freedoms. The important thing to remember is the school system also has its rights to protect which is the enterprise of learning," says UL professor Bill Davie.

"I wish I could say the students are unfettered. That's not true. The students do have to abide by reasonable restrictions on their first amendment rights, and the courts will probably side with the school district and administrators if it becomes impossible to teach or impossible to learn during whatever protest is staged," adds Davie.

To read our interview with the state director of the ACLU, and to see the video the ACLU has created to help students understand their rights, click here

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