TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Teenagers and some parents are aware of the consequences awaiting any student who leaves a Tucson Unified School District campus as part of a nationwide movement Wednesday, March 14.
Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo outlined the plans and expectations for the day during a press conference Tuesday, March 13.
He said administrators at the district's middle schools and high schools have been encouraged to host some sort of activity or outlet for students, like a walk to the football field at Cholla or a 'teach-in' at Tucson High's auditorium.
"That way kids feel they have an alternative to just getting up and walking out of school," said Trujillo.
The allure of alternatives is lost on Jeremia Petz, a senior at Tucson High. He said he's participating in the walkout despite any consequences.
"They're not going to keep my diploma from me if I walk out one day," he said. "The point of a walk out is to walk out. You can have an assembly about the problem, but if you don't have kids that are breaking the rules to make a point, then it's not exactly the same."
Trujillo said students have been told that walking out from school will be considered an unexcused absence and all work will need to be made up. Administrators have notified parents of students who've been adamant about walking out.
Involving parents is key, according to Trujillo.
"I don't want to move in and say so-and-so is getting suspended, so-and-so is getting detention," he said. "I think it sets a negative tone. I think communication with parents is the way to deal with it and emphasizing the natural consequences of being out of school."
Abby Johnston, a junior at Tucson High, said she won't be joining any walk out on Wednesday after her experience with some classmates leaving campus on February 21 to meet up with students at City High downtown.
Johnston said she was the only one to make it all the way to the protest. She said all the other Tucson High students had splintered off for snacks or to simply skip class.
"I feel like maybe you'd get a better result if everyone actually walks out and does what they're supposed to do, but not everyone does that," she said.
Any students attempting to leave won't be physically stopped, but parents will be notified, according to Trujillo. He said safety is a priority when students are on campus and administrators have coordinated with police to ensure their safety as best as possible off campus.
"Kids texting while they're walking across streets, kids making poor decisions while they're outside of school, those are the types of things we worry about," said Trujillo.
Administrators are also promoting an event organized by student leaders at TUSD. The event is planned for the mall of the University of Arizona on Saturday, March 24.