Several local schools not allowing walkouts to mark Columbine shooting anniversary

ARNOLD, Mo. - Hundreds of students across St. Louis are preparing to take part in a national walkout to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.

But some Students at the FOX C-6 School District are upset that administrators won’t allow them to participate. Superintendent Dr. Jim Wipke told FOX 2, it’s not that the district doesn’t support their students in this matter rather their concern is safety.

“They deserve to have their voice,” Wipke said. “My concern that is really superseding this day, not their voice, but this day to express their voice in this way, is that it is a much more uncontrolled environment than it was on March 14.”

That was the day many students took part in national March for Our Lives rallies following the Parkland School shooting.

Sophomore Connor Frisch said that weeks of planning had gone behind distributing wristbands and posters in support of the walkout.

“We wanted to create a theme we wanted to promote the awareness for those affected and our cause,” said Frisch. “People should care about what we have to say, because we have rights just like everybody else and our school creates that environment for us, but we would like to see some change.”

Frisch claims that the district was on board with the plans for a walkout but then changed its mind.

“Our First Amendment rights may be infringed due to their action because we believe we have the right to assemble, protest, and petition our government,” he said.

District officials said they recognize that students and even parents may be upset, but protecting students and staff is their number one priority.

“We had reports that not only students were wanting to participate in a walkout, but we are going to have members of outside of our community wanting to come in and when I get those reports, I don’t know who these individuals are,” said Wipke.

Wipke said that there was no guarantee that a walkout won’t happen, but administrators would be keeping a watchful eye.

“We have given them (students) the avenue of the proper way to check out during the day,” he said. "Their parents can check them out and if they are skipping school, then we need to go down the road of that, just like we would any other day.”

Wipke went on to say that the district wants its students to reach out to them by working individually with principals who will help students plan activities that are safe.

Several other local schools plan to participate in Friday’s nationwide walkout. FOX 2 reached out to the Rockwood School District, which is not supporting the national walkout. In a letter sent to families, Superintendent Eric Knost said he was concerned about safety issues.