A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Controversial student protests lead to new policy

On September 16, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) voted for students’ right to protest during school hours and be excused from class.

According to Washington’s Top News, “if the proposed policy changes get final approval, public school students in the county would get up to three excused absences per academic year for civic engagement.” The passing of this policy could potentially start a movement of students protesting for what they believe in.

I believe leaving a class to go protest is important because you’re standing up for what’s right and a change in this world,” said Charles Carroll Middle School student Karina Gomez. “And for me, it’s worth risking my grade because I want a change in this world, I want to make the world a better place to live in and I know my grade is important but I just want people to hear my voice.”

Many agree that students could use joining the protest as an excuse or opportunity to skip class, not even truly caring about what the protest is about .  This was one of the criticisms at Parkdale’s walkout to end gun violence in school during the 2017-2018 school year.

This 50/50 chance could jeopardize the students chances to protest.

According to Source Vox, “it’s completely legal for a school district — or even a state — to discipline students for an unexcused absence if that is school policy. Students under 18 are required by law to go to school in most states, so they can be punished for missing class. But punishment can vary from state to state and from school district to school district.”

The passage of this new policy from MCPS could create a new guideline for non-punishable “missing class” offenses, like protesting.

If this policy passes and catches on in other counties, including PGCPS, the teacher’s personal feelings will no longer determine if a student can or cannot participate in a protest and miss class.

The school board plans to make a final decision after hearing from the public.