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Seattle schools not excusing students for Friday climate change walkout

Students in Denmark take part in global climate change protests. (AP)

Despite a resolution from Seattle City Council urging schools to allow students to attend Friday’s global climate walkout, officials have stated they will not excuse absences.

Seattle council urges schools to support student climate change walkout

“Seattle Public Schools will not attempt to prevent students from participation in this event, but we cannot excuse the absence from school, as it does not meet the criteria of an excused absence as defined by state law or board policy and procedure,” district superintendent Denise Juneau said in a letter addressed to Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan.

The resolution passed on Monday was championed by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who argued that when it comes to climate change, “young people are correct to be outraged, and they have no choice but to take action.”

The measure passed unanimously. Oddly enough it also allowed city employees to attend Friday’s climate walkout as a “day of conscience,” but only as unpaid leave.

Juneau was quick to point out the discrepancy.

“Unpaid leave seems to be a very similar consequence as an unexcused absence,” she added in her letter.

She went on to criticize the council for passing the resolution without first consulting the school district.

“It might help for you to understand our perspective and limitations before you publicly pass resolutions. I know I would appreciate a heads-up,” she said.

Seattle’s Roosevelt High School echoed those sentiments in a letter issued to parents, noting that while it “supports our students’ first amendment rights,” it also is compelled to operate based on the standards of the school district.

“State law … which guides school district policy, does not allow an excused absence for participation in a walkout,” the letter reads.

Roosevelt will be encouraging staff to “provide learning-based activities focused on climate change throughout the day” on Friday. Students attending the walkout who participate in sports with games on Friday will not be eligible to play.

Students across Puget Sound skip school to protest climate change

The climate walkout will kick off at 9 a.m. at Cal Anderson Park. A march from the park to Seattle City Hall will take place at noon, followed by a youth-led rally at the end of the march. Almost 1,000 Amazon employees will gather at the Spheres on 7th Avenue and Lenora Street at 11:30 a.m. as well, and will march to City Hall from there.

Roughly 1,100 have responded as “going” to the Facebook event page for the Seattle Climate Strike, with another 3,300 “interested.” That’s up from the 303 who responded as “going” back in March, and the 1,000 people who were “interested.”

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