Horry County administrators advising students against school walkouts

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Wednesday marks one month since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and students across the county plan to participate in walkouts to remember the victims.

Administrators with Horry County School, however, are advising against school walkouts, and instead say they're encouraging what they're referring to as safer alternatives for students to take part in.

"It's the simple issue of a safety concern to have a national walkout throughout the United States of students. It just gives notice to any mentally unstable person to have a field day outside the school," said Horry County School Board Chairman Joe Defeo.

"We do have 44,000 students, and parents have entrusted their kids in our care, so we want to make sure that we protect them and provide other opportunities for them for tomorrow (Wednesday), which we have done," said Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.

As an alternative to walkouts, Bourcier said the school district has been working with staff and student leaders to come up with other ideas to remember the 17 victims of the school shooting.

"All of our high schools are participating. Some of them are doing 17 chimes and reading the bios of each student on the minute," said Bourcier, "Some are actually having banners that are put out starting this week and having the opportunity for students to sign and they plan to mail those to the high school in Florida."

A mother of five children, all enrolled in Horry County schools, is fine with the plan.

"I just don't feel like walking out of school will make that any better," said parent Jamie Ellis.

Ellis said she thinks promoting acts of kindness is a good thing and a better alternative to walking out of school.

"Make a positive outcome out of something that is negative, but walking out of school wasn't going to solve that," said Ellis, "Be compassionate, be understanding, follow your heart, but make it to where you're not only benefiting yourself, but you're benefiting society as well."

Shaundra Young Scott, executive director of the South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said as long as the child is not disrupting school, there's nothing to be punished for. However, if actions are against school policy - like leaving class or school - she says she believes the school is within its right to follow those rules.

"I think it's great that they have put in place some parameters in order to remember the students," said Scott, "However, what's at stake here is the students want to advocate in the way that they think is most effective and we don't want to deny them of that right. This is a rare opportunity for them to actually participate in democracy and see what it looks like, especially at such a young age, and we want to be able to kind of guide them through it as opposed to suppressing it."

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