The gun control movement notched a public relations coup with last week’s massive school walkouts, but now school districts that pitched in to ensure the protest’s success are stuck with the rising political and legal fallout.
A week after the March 14 walkout, school officials are grappling with complaints from parents outraged by the specter of their kids engaged in political protesting on school time, as well as reports of criminal mischief committed by teens who treated the event as a get-out-of-class-free card.
What’s more, the students get to do it all again next month. A substantially identical event, also called the National School Walkout, is scheduled for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.
Chris Cleveland, chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, said he worried that the walkouts, aimed at pushing for tougher gun restrictions in the wake of the deadly Parkland shooting, have provided the template for advocacy groups eager to co-opt the public schools for progressive activism.
“If they get away with this, they’ll be free to engage in any kind of political activity in the schools that they wish,” said Mr. Cleveland, who has a third-grader in the Chicago Public Schools.
The party is moving to avert that scenario by preparing a lawsuit against the school system, arguing that the district violated state and federal law as well as its own policies by organizing a political demonstration — and pressuring students to attend — on the taxpayers’ dime.
The district has yet to comment, but it has other problems. About 60 students from Simeon Career Academy trashed a Walmart “while they were supposed to be protesting guns,” an incident under investigation by police, according to Fox32 in Chicago.