Report by Paula Antolini
March 17, 2018 9:31AM
Photo above: Some of the many Bethel students shown walking off campus, along Route 302 in Bethel, CT, as they defiantly participate in the #ENOUGH! National School Walkout on March 14th. A Bethel Police vehicle (facing opposite way on road) follows along slowly in front of the group.
Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, Dr. Carver, Issues Follow-Up Email About March 14th #ENOUGH Student Protest; Discipline Not Addressed
Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, issued a follow-up email on March 14th at 1:28 p.m (view email below) to parents, guardians, students and staff, issued on the same day as students participated in the #ENOUGH! National School Walkout, hosted by the Women’s March and Women’s March Youth, but the email does not address discipline.
The email only indicates that during what the school is calling “advisories allowing student voice in ending school violence,” Bethel Middle School and Bethel High School students conducted school-supervised memorials honoring the 17 Florida school shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The email reads, “After the Bethel High School assembly, a number of students chose to walk out (approximately 60). A smaller group of students chose to walk to the Municipal Center (leaving school grounds) to continue their protest,” again, not addressing discipline.
Some students left the Bethel High School building after the “advisory” session that was held indoors, and protested around the Bethel Public Schools (BPS) campus. Other students walked off campus in protest, while school was in session. Students walked off campus in many different directions, in small groups and larger groups, without permission from school officials. Students spoke about gun violence at the “advisories” and also shouted “Protect children not guns,” while protesting outdoors loudly, holding many protest signs. All were breaking school rules.
Police had their jobs to do following the students, closing off streets where possible, including all of School Street in front of the CJH Municipal Center at one point, to keep students safe. In the email, the Bethel Police are thanked for their support and “student safety and education” is mentioned as a priority, but nothing about student discipline.
According to comments in local social media forums and opinions in real time, parents are highly concerned about the protocol of the protest event and school officials’ actions regarding the walkout, and what will happen next regarding discipline or if another protest (or a protest about a different topic) is requested or performed.
We also sent a message to the Chairman of the Board of Education, Larry Craybas, sent on 3-16-18, regarding this same issue, and we are presently awaiting his reply.
BETHEL SUPERINTENDENT’S EMAIL:
Subject: Supt. Follow-Up Communication-March 14th
Dear Parents, Guardians, Students, and Staff,
As indicated in my email earlier today, Bethel Middle School and Bethel High School conducted advisories allowing student voice in ending school violence. At Bethel Middle School, students and staff engaged in a moment of silence to honor the lives lost and decorated doves as a symbol of peace and unity. At Bethel High School, students read the names of the 17 lives lost, held a moment of silence, and discussed ways to effect change in our democracy. Both student led advisories were a positive voice for ending school violence. We are proud of our students who participated in our advisories and demonstrated appropriate expression in a safe and productive manner.
After the Bethel High School assembly, a number of students chose to walk out (approximately 60). A smaller group of students chose to walk to the Municipal Center (leaving school grounds) to continue their protest. The Bethel Police Department partnered with us at all of the schools and around the campus. The police monitored and remained a presence while the protest continued at the Municipal Center. We thank them for their outstanding support.
Student safety and education are our primary concern. Thank you for your continued support.
Christine Carver, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
VIEW A FEW PHOTOS FROM THE PROTEST BELOW
(view more photos and videos here: Defiant BHS Students Participate in ‘Enough! National School Walkout’ to Protest Gun Violence, Despite Discipline Warnings from Principal)