School "walk-in" raises concern - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

School "walk-in" raises concern

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A walk-in planned at several schools around New Hanover County for Monday morning is raising concern. A walk-in planned at several schools around New Hanover County for Monday morning is raising concern.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A walk-in planned at several schools around New Hanover County for Monday morning is raising concern.  Teachers across the state of North Carolina are wearing red in support of education. They have asked parents and community members to support them by wearing red and participating in the walk in.

This has raised concerned from parents and school board members who say it is against school policy to participate in a political protest on campus. Some parents are also concerned about school security. They say they are afraid of unauthorized individuals "walking-in" to their children's school.

A statement from Tammy Covil, New Hanover County Board of Education:

"Although I wholeheartedly support a teacher's right to free speech, there is a policy that prohibits employees from participating in political protests on school campus.  Policy 6022 - Staff Participation in Political Activities - states:

"School system employees shall not (i) while on school system premises or on school system time, campaign, collect funds or distribute material in connection with political activities, or involve students in political affairs or (ii) use school system equipment, supplies, mail service or other modes of communication for political affairs.  Nothing in this Policy will be interpreted to restrict the teaching of political issues or the dissemination of information about serious problems of the school system or community.  However, both sides of political issues must be presented so that students will have an opportunity to be well informed and they, in turn, will be in a position to make their own decisions regarding political issues." 

Board policy on political speech does not exist to stifle protest but to promote balanced debate.

The Wear Red 4 Ed demonstration is not in compliance with policy as it does not offer those with opposing viewpoints an opportunity to speak.  If we allow demonstrations by those whose views we support, we must allow the same to those whose views we may find objectionable.  Additionally, employees have been using email addresses and modes of communication strictly intended for educational purposes to elicit parent and student participation in this political protest; another clear and egregious policy violation.  

Furthermore, the school system has, through the hiring of additional School Resource Officers and costly building upgrades, made great strides in strengthening safety and security on our school campuses.  Inviting the media and the general public en masse to participate in this demonstration seriously compromises those security efforts."

A statement from the deputy superintendent, Dr. Rick Holiday says:

"We did not organize this event nor do we endorse it. While we support teachers, our main concern is that our students are served and the school day should not be disrupted."

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