PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – City leaders aren’t officially supporting a student-led plan to walk out of high schools Friday during President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. But they aren’t attempting to stop it either.
A spokesperson for the district confirmed Monday that any student participating in the walkout will receive an unexcused absence, the same policy that would be enforced if a similar protest occurred on any other day.
“Providence Public Schools does not sanction this walkout,” Laura Hart, a spokesperson for the district, told Eyewitness News. “We respect the First Amendment rights of our students, but believe there are other ways to express their opinions that do not interfere with their education.”
Hart said the district considers the safety of students its priority, so “we are working with principals, public transit, community business leaders, City Hall, and law enforcement to address these concerns.”
The walkout is being led by well-known students groups Youth in Action and the Providence Student Union, according to an event listing on Facebook. Both organizations give students a large say over their agendas, but they are staffed by professionals.
The even listing states that students will walk to the State House Friday at 11:08 a.m., just as Trump is being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. The organizations say they will “protest against policies under the Trump administration and gather on the steps of the RI State House in solidarity for student and community rights.”
As of 9 p.m. Monday, 154 people said they were attending the walkout, according to Facebook.
When asked if teachers or administrators who participate in the walkout will face discipline, Hart said “all district policies and protocols regarding but not limited to time and attendance will be enforced.”