District will not punish Bellmore-Merrick students participating in anti-gun violence walkout

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Students at Calhoun, John F. Kennedy and Mepham high schools will likely not face discipline if they participate in the nationwide walkout, expected to take place on Wednesday morning in protest of gun violence, according to John DeTommaso, superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.

Students nationwide are expected to walk out for 17 minutes in memory of the 17 people who died at the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., with students at Calhoun School, in Merrick, and others across Nassau County, indicating that they will participate in the demonstration. Many school districts, however, have been largely silent on how they will handle the walkouts on a policy level.

DeTommaso, on Monday, however, said that his administration, along with the three high schools’ principals, will work with all students — “those that walk out, and those that don’t.” The district, though, has no official position on the reasons behind the walkout.

“This is not a school-sponsored activity, but the district certainly supports our kids,” DeTommaso said. “We support kids in every way that we can, and we’re going to do that in this case. We’re going to be sure that it’s as controlled an event as possible, with as little disruption to the day as we can.”

Acknowledging that the walkout was “a national movement,” DeTommaso said that he felt it was important for students to have an independent voice, and that students who choose not to walk out also not be treated any differently than those who do.

Asked if students would be disciplined for walking out, DeTommaso said, “We don’t anticipate that there will be, especially in that the principals have worked very hard with the kids.”

“As far as we’re concerned, they’re supporting the kids in Parkland, and they’re against gun violence,” he added.

More than 200 colleges and universities have pledged students’ admission prospects will not be affected by any discipline they might face at their schools for participating in Wednesday’s walkouts.