APS letter regarding student walkouts raises concerns

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People have mixed feelings about a letter sent out by the Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent regarding upcoming planned student walkouts. A national school walkout is planned March 14 to call on Congress to keep school safe from gun violence.

Some people feel the letter is delegating when students should and should not be expressing their freedom of speech. APS claims people are interpreting the letter all wrong. A spokesperson said they are simply asking that students be safe.

From protesting standardized tests, to speaking out against budget cuts and issues with DACA, APS schools have had their fair share of student walkouts.

Now, after the Parkland school shooting in Florida left 17 people dead, two national school walkouts have been planned for March and April, both during school hours.

“It’s a really good education for children,” said Thane Padilla.

However, APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy posted a letter on Friday saying she respects students right to expression, but encourages students to consider alternative demonstrations that don’t distract from class. She suggests a better time would be before and after school, lunch or weekends.

The letter also says protests and rallies aren’t appropriate for elementary students. The superintendent suggests schools offer and extra 17 minutes of playtime for elementary school students to honor the Parkland victims and in celebration of the innocence of childhood.

So, KRQE News 13 asked people around Albuquerque to read the letter.

“I mean, it’s well intended,” said one man.

“I agree with some of the points,” said Thane Padilla.

Still, there’s quite a bit in the letter that people disagree with.

“If you’re gonna do a demonstration, and we have that right, needs to be done to disrupt the normal schedule of the day,” said Padilla.

Others feel the district isn’t putting enough trust in the students and the schools.

“It can be done in a responsible way, give them a chance, work it through, but don’t make this business as usual,” said another man.

APS said the sole intent of the letter was simply regarding safety.

“I see that’s mentioned there, I don’t buy that,” said Padilla.

The district said it fully supports students’ right to demonstrate, but safety concerns from past walkouts is why they sent out the letter.

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