On April 20, 2018, students at various schools throughout the Shawnee Mission School District were censored, silenced, and in some cases subject to aggressive physical contact by administrators while participating in a national school walkout protesting gun violence.
Incidents occurred at Hocker Grove Middle School, Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission West. Some students were told that they were not allowed to mention mass shootings or gun violence in their prepared remarks. Others were physically pushed or had their prepared speeches torn up by administrators.
Public school students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. The district's aggressive censorship tactics have resulted in a variety of injuries to students. These injuries cannot be remedied by the District's internal investigations and blanket apologies. Concrete and transparent actions are necessary to remove the chill SMSD's conduct imposed on future protected activity.