Last week, hundreds of Davis High School students marched out of class and protested the election of Donald Trump to President. While for the most part the students were peaceful, there were scattered reports of harassment of students not wanting to participate, and in some cases worse.
Superintendent John Bowes put out the following statement yesterday to parents and guardians:
In recent days, the presidential election has excited emotions across our country, our state, our community and within our schools. It has caused dissension among students and even a student demonstration on our senior high school campus.
This presents a very unique moment for our school district, unparalleled in the last fifteen years. We are proactive in embracing this moment not in fear or with hesitancy, but we seize a teaching opportunity to underscore our values and commitments. This is the time when we lead toward positive outcomes by modeling appropriate civil discourse and the free exchange of ideas. I am proud to say that our Davis School Board and staff have set a positive tone to commit to a climate of peace, respect and openness to diverse perspectives. Current events have also given us the opportunity to reflect and review our policies and procedures to ensure we have the right measures in place to ensure safety and protect student first amendment rights, while maintaining and prioritizing the orderly operation of school.
As parents and guardians, your child may have expressed strong feelings of conflict, fear and/or vulnerability. These are real emotions that may continue to exist among many in our community for some time. School is a place where every child should feel safe, welcome and connected. To that end, I ask that you please share with your child the following priorities of Davis Joint Unified School District:
- School remains a welcome, safe space for all students
- We respect diverse perspectives and uphold the free exchange of ideas as essential elements of our educational program.
- School is a safe space for talking about feelings with trusted adults, including counselors, teachers, principals, etc.
- Parents/guardians are key partners for helping to engage students in thoughtful and civil discourse.
- Student safety, both physically and emotionally, remains our priority.
- Classrooms are safe zones where students can engage in free and respectful exchange of ideas through a balanced approach, free from reprisal.
- Our school district cares deeply about the social-emotional health of students. You may contact the Student Support Services office at Student Support Services or at 530-757-5300 x140 for questions about support resources for students and families.
My most important message today is that Davis Joint Unified School District is here to serve students. For quality learning to unfold, students need to be in attendance. While we did experience a recent walkout at Davis Senior High School as part of a student election protest, please be assured that the following lessons shall be upheld at our schools for the protection of all students:
- Generally speaking, students have the right to freedom of speech and assembly on school grounds as long as it does not disrupt the educational environment or is otherwise not offensive to others on campus.
- Students do not have a free speech right to leave school to participate in protests, and any absence for this reason should be considered an unexcused absence.
- All school employees are held to highest ethical standards and professional behavior, are required to follow federal, state and district laws and regulations and are expected to exercise good judgment when interacting with students and members of our school community.
- All school employees must work in concert to provide a positive school climate and a space for the free exchange of ideas with a balanced approach to diverse perspectives.
If you have any questions or concerns about these priorities or other related issues at your child’s school, please do not hesitate to contact your school principal or a site leader.
As we look ahead, our schools will continue to embrace differences, model restorative justice and serve as positive examples on how to protect and preserve healthy, civil discourse. To enable our youth to become the leaders of tomorrow, we dedicate ourselves to providing them the best experience possible today. Thank you for your support and partnership.