National Walkout Day punishments met with backlash

Posted: Updated:
LINDENHURST -

Schools that took disciplinary actions against students who participated in Wednesday’s National Walkout Day against gun violence are receiving backlash from students, parents and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Reports of discipline have ranged from several days of detention to in-school suspension and even five days out-of-school suspension.

Copiague High School student Kaitlyn Besse served her out-of-school suspension Thursday.

“I know I did the right thing for the people who lost their lives who can't stand here today and get their message across,” says Besse.

In a letter to the state education commissioner, Gov. Cuomo said, “These actions are against constitutional free-speech protections. I call on you to use [state Education Department] authority to stop the schools, reverse course and cease any disciplinary actions."

In Lindenhurst, 36 students who participated in the walkout were given 7 1/2 hours of detention to be served on three separate days. On Thursday afternoon, school administration decided to “absolve the students of the determined disciplinary action” out of respect for the governor’s wishes.

Before being absolved, senior Mae Vine told News 12 that “ever since I was in middle school, Lindenhurst has been telling me to use my voice.”

“But as soon as I do that I'm being told to stop,” says Vine.

Students from Massapequa High School told News 12 that participating students were given a one-day in-school suspension. 

News 12 is told that those 32 students attended a Board of Education meeting Thursday night to protest the punishment.

"To have the school suspend us for exactly what they've been telling us to do for 12 years is kind of hypocritical,” said student Isabella Italiano.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Lucille Iconis said that school officials did in fact work with faculty advisors and students leaders to design a school program in the back of the building Wednesday afternoon.

"We could not support a walkout in which our students left class to congregate without supervision outside of the school,” she said. “However, we do and continue to support their voices."

Governor Cuomo sent a letter to the State Education Commissioner urging the department to encourage schools to cease such disciplinary action.

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