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Hazelwood School District rescinds student suspensions over walkout

HAZELWOOD, MO (KTVI) - The Hazelwood School District has rescinded the suspensions of students who walked out of class earlier this week. It turns out district workers may have encouraged the walkout.

More than 100 students at Hazelwood West High School were suspended when they walked out of school in support of teachers who are in contract negotiations. Students were disappointed to learn some of their favorite teachers aren't returning next year.

Twelve of the students were seniors, who were then barred from walking across the stage at Saturday's graduation ceremony.

With the suspension rescinded, those 12 seniors will be allowed to walk.

The current union contract ends June 30 and the district and the union have been at odds throughout the winter and spring.

The Hazelwood School District released the following statement regarding the Hazelwood West students:

"Hazelwood West High School Principal Dennis Newell and other administrators honored students and parents’ requests for several meetings throughout the day on Thursday. During these meetings, new information was provided to administrators that some employees of the district encouraged and may have manipulated students into the walkout, which resulted in disruption and created safety concerns.

While this matter with employees is being investigated, Mr. Newell has made the decision to rescind the consequences for students. Therefore, underclassmen will be allowed to return to school Friday and resume regular activities. In addition, the 12 Hazelwood West seniors who were suspended earlier this week, may return on Friday for rehearsal in preparation for their graduation. All students missing exams during their suspension will be permitted to make up the exams.

"Even as these consequences were being considered, at no time were students’ college or athletic scholarships in jeopardy, such as a+ scholarships. comparisons to this walkout have been made to other walkouts in previous years and under different circumstances. Those walkouts were in fact, organized, authorized, and supervised by the district.

"Unfortunately, there are several inaccuracies and false assumptions being reported. First, the walkout staged Monday afternoon was not peaceful. Students in the hallways and outside of the school walked, ran, and shouted chants using vulgarities and profanities. Approximately 200 students left their classrooms without permission. This was despite a robo-call made to all high school students' homes on Sunday warning that any student leaving or cutting class would be subject to disciplinary action, in accordance with the district's code of conduct. when students were directed to return to the building, the majority of students failed to do so. While some of the students were shouting through the hallways and outside the building, they disrupted the academic process of approximately 1,700 students who were taking final exams and/or properly participating in classroom learning activities. Students were not properly supervised while outside of the building, causing a liability to both the students and the district."