Charlottesville Schools Plan for Upcoming Student Walkout in Response to Gun Violence

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Charlottesville School Board Charlottesville School Board
Students and teacher spoke at the meeting on March 1 Students and teacher spoke at the meeting on March 1

Charlottesville City Public Schools are taking action on Thursday, March 1, after a school board meeting that brought up safety concerns from students.

The schools asked for more security and support for the upcoming planned school-wide walkout that’s being held in response to the shooting that happened in Florida two weeks ago.

Both students and parents expressed concern over danger at school, and asked the school board to step up and take action and condemn gun violence and the Parkland shooting.

High school student Althea Laughon and her mother want Charlottesville schools to be proactive against gun violence.

“I would love to see the school board come out with a strong statement, asking for real action,” says Kathryn Laughon, mother of Althea.

The mother-daughter duo spoke out at Thursday night’s school board meeting along with others in the community.

“They have spent their childhoods learning that they aren't safe - that danger awaits them at school,” says Bekah Saxon, a parent of a Buford Middle School student and a former city teacher.

One student who sits as a representative on the board confirmed what many in the audience were saying.

“We are all very scared, and coming to school has become something that is frightening,” says Fre Halvorson-Taylor, the student representative.

Students are planning to host a school-wide walkout on March 14 in honor of the victims of the Florida high school shooting.

Not only do the students want the school's support, but they want their participation as well.

“We need something from you, and I hope you'll make this choice,” says Halvorson-Taylor.

Halvorson also asked for locks on doors in classrooms, more outside security, and even bulletproof vests in case of an emergency.

Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins says she supports the students’ movement, and plans to allow teachers to participate in the walkout as well.

“School safety is paramount to what we do,” says Atkins. “Our primary goal is to provide that environment that reassures you, that you're safe, that we take it seriously, and that we're going to respond to your needs."

At the end of the meeting, the board proposed and approved a resolution on gun violence. It says it'll be prioritizing mental health and safety precautions in an attempt to prevent an active shooter incident from occurring, and also calls on legislators to create stricter gun laws.