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Civil Rights Groups Send Letter To Needville ISD Over Threats To Punish Student Who Join Walkouts Over Gun Control

Students in Needville ISD who join demonstrations about gun violence after the school shooting in Florida will be suspended for three days, according to the superintendent


Angelina Lazo (L), an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who said that she lost two friends in the shooting at her school two days ago, reacts to honks of support from passing motorists as she and her mother, Linda Lazo, right, join other gun control proponents with placards at a street corner in Coral Springs, Florida, U.S. February 16, 2018.

Three civil rights groups sent a letter to the Needville Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Rhodes Tuesday, February 27th, expressing their constitutional concerns over his threat to suspend any student who misses class to protest current gun laws.

Kali Cohn, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas, said that Needville administrators can't censor political speech or punish students more harshly for missing school to take part in a political protest than they would for any another unexcused absence.

The Texas Civil Rights Project and the public interest law firm Texas Appleseed also joined the letter.

Needville Superintendent Rhodes in Fort Bend County recently deleted his social media post that threatened an automatic three day suspension to any student if they join growing national protests over guns since the Florida school shooting.

"Across the country, young people are making their voices heard on the issues that affect their lives," said Natalia Cornelio, criminal justice program director with the Texas Civil Rights Project. "In this important moment in our democracy, we need to encourage their political voice; not suppress it."

Along with the letter, the civil rights groups also sent ‘‘Know Your Rights Materials’ useful both to students and administrators.

Additionally, the national office of the ACLU will host a nationwide training for students who plan to participate in post-Parkland protests.

"Suspending students from school for adding their voices to an important public policy dialogue simply makes no sense,” said Morgan Craven, director of Texas Appleseed's School-to-Prison Pipeline Project.

Read the letter sent by the ACLU, TCRP, and Texas Appleseed to Superintendent Rhodes: