Denton Guyer Students: Don't Punish Us For Planned Walkout

Denton I.S.D. officials say they will work to accommodate students who plan to walk out, part of a nationwide protest against gun violence scheduled for April. But if they leave school property, there will be consequences.

An online petition appeared earlier this week, addressed to administrators at Guyer High School in Denton, and district trustees. It demands that students who take part in the April 20 National School Walkout be able to do so without punishment. The event coincides with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre in Colorado.

The April effort was spurred by the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead.

"I think we should have some kind of reform," said Kellie Doucette, a Guyer freshman. "Something should change."

The petition seeks 1,000 signatures. As of Thursday, it had reached nearly half that number. Students say they want their voices to be heard, without fear of getting into trouble.

"If they punish us, I think that's unfair," said Guyer freshman Lucie Mangawe  "We're standing up for what we believe in and what we want to change."

Denton I.S.D. administrators learned of the petition earlier this week. Officials say they will try and work with students, not just at Guyer, but district-wide.

"I think the overall goal is we understand their concerns and empathize with where they're coming from," said Mario Zavala, Denton ISD spokesman. But student safety is the top priority, and students who leave school property will face consequences.

"They have their rights to speak their mind," he said. "And we want to make sure they do it in a safe manner."

Not all students support the walkout. Sophomore Adrian Garcia questions the motives of some fellow classmates.

"I think it's just a way for students to try to skip, and dip out of their last few classes," said Garcia.

While Doucette acknowledges that may be true for some, most students she knows are ready for their voices to be heard.

"It would be sending a message that we do care," she said. "Something has to change."

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