Demonstrations on CMS campus causes early dismissal - | WBTV Charlotte

Demonstrations on CMS campus causes early dismissal

Photo of the demonstration at South Mecklenburg High (Photo provided to WBTV) Photo of the demonstration at South Mecklenburg High (Photo provided to WBTV)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials say students at several district schools staged walkouts Friday, leaving their classrooms to march around campus in protest. They were speaking out about immigration issues across the country.

CMS said it was aware of three schools that planned demonstrations: South Mecklenburg High School, Olympic Community of Schools and Martin Luther King, Jr Middle School. 

Early in the day, CMS sent this Connect-Ed message to families at those schools from the principals.

"Good morning families. This is (school principal) with an important message. As you may have heard, some students have chosen to organize a walk out and leave campus. We respect their right to assemble peacefully and advocate for important causes that impact their community. However, it is not in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct to leave campus or disrupt school operations. Our priority is to keep all of our students safe. Any students who participate in disorderly conduct will be disciplined according to the Code of Student Conduct. Staff is continuing to monitor the situation. Teaching and learning is continuing in our classrooms. I'll keep you updated."

Students say the demonstration turned disruptive at South Mecklenburg High School, saying students were outside telling their story when another student started saying negative things about immigration.

"One of the Trump supporters came and actually swung at one of our people," student Gletza Asa said. "And that's what caused it and we were trying to separate it. We didn't want no consequences or nothing. Security came took him away."

Students say chaos erupted and it was hard to get students back to class. The demonstration was supposed to last part of a class period but things got out of hand, they said.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this, but I am proud of the people that actually stood up for us and did show up at the beginning and tell their story" Alas said. "I am really proud of them but I am also disappointed in that it went the way it went."

Parents said their children sent text messages to come pick them up. By 12:30 p.m. Friday parents were picking up their children from South Mecklenburg High School. Minutes later, school was dismissed early because of the demonstration.  The school's principal sent this Connect Ed message to parents.

"Good afternoon parents, this is Principal Maureen Furr with an important message about an early dismissal today, Friday February 17th. Earlier today, I made you aware of some students who organized a walkout on our campus. While no violence has occurred on our campus as a result, we have decided to release students early today as a precautionary measure. School buses have begun arriving at South Mecklenburg High School and bus riders will be dismissed in an orderly fashion as individual school buses arrive. Student drivers will be released after the buses exit campus. Car riders will be dismissed as parents arrive to pick up students.

We encourage you to talk to your child about the incidents on campus today and the importance of expressing themselves in appropriate ways while on campus. Thank you for your support of South Mecklenburg High School.  As a reminder, students will not have school on Monday, it is a teacher work day."

Students who left South Mecklenburg High School campus after the demonstration were not allowed to come back to catch the bus home. CMS leaders said the rules are if students leave campus without permission, they are not allowed back on campus.  Students said they were stranded.

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark sent this statement Friday afternoon.

"Today, some of our students chose to organize on-campus walkouts in protest to recent events involving immigrant communities," said Superintendent Ann Clark.  "On some campuses, peaceful protests were organized and students then returned to class. We understand that many of our students are feeling lots of anxiety and fear. We respect the right of our students to assemble peacefully and advocate for causes that are important to them. However, disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately but firmly in accordance with the CMS Code of Student Conduct. We encourage parents to talk to their children about how they may be feeling and the importance of expressing themselves in appropriate and peaceful ways while at school."

Students at South Mecklenburg High School say they may wait awhile before demonstrating again.

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