PLAINFIELD – A letter Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 Superintendent Lane Abrell sent out to parents regarding the planned student walkouts to protest school shootings caused a bit of a stir.
It just so happened the district already planned a “Coffee with the Superintendent” meeting on Saturday, so several parents and some students used it as an opportunity to voice their opinions to administrators.
“It’s a very, very emotional issue,” Abrell said to attendees. “And one that needs some action, but a thoughtful, measured, logical reaction.”
In the letter, Abrell explained that because of safety concerns about having students walk out of their respective school buildings on Wednesday, the district would not approve or endorse the walkouts. The district said, like in any other instance in which a student without permission were to leave the building, they would receive consequences, probably an after-school detention.
Abrell also wrote that the district was working on other ways to “provide concerned students with a voice.” He went into more detail at Saturday’s meeting explaining there were tentative plans to have students meet with public officials such as state Reps. Mark Batnick and Natalie Manley, and even gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Daniel Biss, to discuss what is being done about school shootings.
Students who choose to walk out of their schools on Wednesday will have the option to attend their school’s meeting with one of the elected officials in lieu of a detention. Abrell said the district wants this to be a continuation of action and education on the issue.
Some parents at the meeting said they appreciated the further explanation from administrators about how the walkouts will be handled, even though some initially had concerns about what would happen to their children.
“I wasn’t surprised when we received the letter because I expected that to come,” said Kim Hensley, whose daughter Emmy is a senior at Plainfield North High School. “We had lengthy conversations about if you believe strongly in something, you stand up for it and you accept those consequences.”
Hensley also looked into whether colleges her daughter was applying to might take issue with a possible detention for the demonstration and found it would not be a problem.
Ultimately, both administrators and parents lauded the students who were taking constructive action, whether through demonstration or dialogue, about such an important issue and others did appreciate what the district was doing.
“I’m really glad that it kind of turned around and that we as students can voice our opinions, but also stand in solidarity and can be safe all at the same time,” Emmy Hensley said. “I don’t think what they’re doing is really much of a consequence personally.”