Montgomery County Public Schools to allow excused absences for protests

by DCG

The speaker in this video, Matt Post, was a student member on the Montgomery County School Board. He is now a national field strategist for March for Our Lives.

From Washington Post: Skipping school to attend a protest is likely to get much easier for high school students in suburban Maryland beginning as early as January.

That’s when the school board in Montgomery County is expected to approve a revamped proposal to allow public high school students to take as many as three excused absences a year to participate in political protests and other forms of “civic engagement” during the school day.

The district’s proposal is considered to be one of very few in the country that would formally let students take an excused day off to join marches, lead protests, lobby leaders, campaign for candidates (can’t all this be done during non-school hours?) or otherwise partake in civic action. It comes in a year when high school students have been at the forefront of political protests across the country, particularly on gun violence issues but extending into political campaign matters including student debt, health care and abortion rights.

The push for the measure arose because parents and students in the county expressed concern that different schools had different approaches when it came to deciding whether a student could receive an excused absence for engaging in protests. They felt students shouldn’t be punished with an unexcused absence for taking part in demonstrations so directly connected to issues affecting their lives.

“We’re taught about how important it is to be engaged in our world and community, and to be aware of what’s going on and to be a responsible participant in the democratic process,” said Ananya Tadikonda, 17, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School and the student representative on the Montgomery County Board of Education. “This proposal gives students an opportunity to exercise civic responsibility without being penalized for it.”

When it was introduced in September, the proposal required parental consent, the approval of the school principal and permission from the organization sponsoring the political activity or protest.

Excused absences would not be approved for spontaneous walkouts or protests such as those that took place at schools across the country following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February. Students who leave campus without receiving approval would not receive an excused absence.

The goal of the policy is to ensure students and employees “are well informed and guided in their activities regarding the requirements of state election laws and their participation in civic engagement activities, political campaigns, partisan election activities, and distribution of political or partisan materials.”

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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