SAN DIEGO (CNS/NEWS 8) - Students from about two dozen San Diego County schools walked out of class Friday for the second time in just over a month to protest gun violence and urge politicians to better protect campuses.
The first protest last month came on the one-month anniversary of a shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Friday's was planned for the 19-year anniversary of the shooting that killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado.
The Columbine shooting is generally considered the start of modern-day school massacres, and since April 20, 1999, there have been three deadlier shootings on campuses: the one that killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that killed 20 young children and six adults, and the Feb. 14 shooting this year in Parkland.
In an editorial Friday listing the name of each victim, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that including the Columbine shooting, 223 people have been killed by gun violence on school campuses since 1999. That number included mass shootings, gang shootings and any gun violence in campus housing or at school athletic fields, but excluded suicides, drive-by shooting victims and people killed on buses or at off-campus school events.
Students from at least two dozen schools walked out of class at 10 a.m. Friday. Area schools that registered with nationalschoolwalkout.net, were Bonita Vista High School, Canyon Crest Academy, Chula Vista High School, Clairemont High School, Coronado High School, Eastlake High School, El Camino High School, Farb Middle School, High Tech High School, Hilltop High School, Hoover High School, Kumeyaay Elementary School, La Jolla High School, Mission Hills High School, Olympian High School, Otay Ranch High School, Point Loma High School, Poway High School, Rancho Buena Vista High School, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, San Marcos High School, Scripps Ranch High School, University City High School and Westview High School.
The Poway Unified School District said in a statement that officials at its schools "have been working with student leaders to coordinate safe places for those choosing to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights on campus in supervised areas."
"All PUSD attendance policies remain in effect should any of our students choose to leave campus and not return," district officials said, adding that, per CIF policy, student-athletes must attend at least two-thirds of their classes in order to be eligible to practice or compete later in the day.
Officials from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department released a statement saying,
On Friday, April 20th, students and faculty at schools across the nation are expected to walkout to mark 19 years since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is aware several schools in our jurisdictions will be participating in the National School Walkout. We respect everyone's right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner. We would ask that students and administrators communicate with their local law enforcement particularly if they will be leaving campus to ensure their safety navigating roadways and the well-being of drivers and pedestrians. For our students: please respect the instructions of school officials and if you hear any threats of violence or even potential violence, we encourage you to talk to one of our Sheriff's School Resource Deputies. The Sheriff's Department takes every threat seriously. In addition, students can call the anonymous Crime Stoppers Students Speaking Out tip line at (888) 580-8477. Students, parents and the public can also call the Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200.