In an email sent to parents of students that attend Hardin Valley Academy, a statement from the superintendent said:
“While we support students’ rights and beliefs, and encourage them to advocate for those beliefs in peaceful and productive ways, we place a high priority on the valuable amount of instructional time students have each day. Therefore, we do not condone or approve of students walking out or arranging protests during instructional time.”
The message went on to say that students who do participate in these demonstrations will receive consequences.
Hardin Valley student Dain Shelton says while he understands the school district’s concern, he does not agree with the wording of the message.
“They have a right to protest as citizens and as people and I think that the school kind of enforcing that, it’s not unconstitutional, I hate to throw that word around but it’s that sort of tone that it gives that ‘you’re not allowed to do this’ even though I believe that they are,” Shelton said.
“There are days that I am afraid to go to school, and it is because the lack of reform and control that we have on, for instance, firearms and the other weapons we could bring into school,” Shelton said.
Will Mann is a West High School student and said a walk-out was planned at the school last week.
“I was planning to walk out, not just to skip class or anything, but I wanted to protest, but they locked the doors,” Mann said.
He also said a warning was issued by the school at the time.
“Over the PA, they said people would face consequences,” Mann said.
Shelton plans to take action outside of school, with a student group called Stand For Our Lives.
“We plan on speaking in front of Knox County Commission about gun violence and the state of gun control in the state of Tennessee,” he said. “I do think it will make a difference.”