Bay Area students plan to walkout despite possible consequences

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Students in the Bay Area plan to participate in a nationwide walkout Wednesday morning to show solidarity with students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and to protest gun violence. (KGO-TV)

Students in the Bay Area plan to participate in a nationwide walkout Wednesday morning to show solidarity with students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida and to protest gun violence.

Seventeen people were killed in a mass shooting at the high school on February 14.

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At 10:00 a.m. Wednesday in every time zone, organizers are encouraging students and allies to walk out for 17 minutes, in honor of each victim.

School districts in the South Bay are acknowledging the student activism and their right to participate.

But for some students there could be a price to pay.

Milpitas High School students plan to not only walk out of class, but to walk to the nearby Milpitas Police Department.

The superintendent of the Milpitas Unified School District said students who leave campus will receive an unexcused absence.

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As an alternative, students can stay on campus and participate in 17 minutes of silence.

The San Jose Unified School District will also be giving unexcused absences to students who leave campus.

But, it does not appear students in the district have plans to go off campus.

Both districts said student safety is their first priority and that police have been notified of the planned events. Officers will be on hand to ensure students make it to any off campus destination safely.

The ACLU released a statement on the issue. It reads in part: Citing California Education Code, the ACLU stated that students may not be suspended for participating in walkouts or off-campus protests. School officials may choose to punish students less harshly (or not at all) for participating in walk-outs and protests, as long as all expressive activity is treated equally regardless of content or viewpoint.

"The First Amendment prohibits schools from disciplining a student more harshly for missing class for a protest than for any other unexcused absence," said Peter Eliasberg, Manheim Family attorney for First Amendment Rights at the ACLU of Southern California.

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Click to read complete statements from the Milpitas Unified School District and San Jose Unified School District.
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