How many Lawrence students participated in last week’s walkout? Tough to say, but district provides some clue

photo by: Ashley Hocking

Lawrence students walk to South Park, Friday, April 20, 2018, as part of a National School Walkout in protest of gun violence.

On Friday, hundreds of students across Lawrence walked out of classes to protest gun violence and advocate for policy change. How many, exactly, isn’t clear, but numbers shared with the Journal-World offer some clues.

While the district didn’t have information on the total number of students who participated in the walkout and rally last week, Lawrence Public Schools spokeswoman Julie Boyle was able to share just how many students received excused absences Friday.

The total number of excused absences between the district’s four middle schools and two high schools totaled 1,293. Compare that with the previous Friday, April 13, when that number was 285. These figures are to be taken with a grain of salt, however.

“Excused absences can be for a variety of reasons — e.g. the walkout, illness, appointments, family plans, and school and extracurricular activities, etc.,” Boyle said in an email.

Students who participated in the 17-minute walkout and returned to class directly after were excused. Those who attended the rally at South Park after the 17-minute walkout were asked to follow the district’s usual absence reporting procedures, which mandates that parents must notify the school of their student’s excused absence.

Around 300 students at Lawrence High School walked out of classes Friday as part of the National School Walkout movement, which saw thousands of students participating in their own protests across the country. Later that morning, about 600 people, most of them students, gathered at South Park for a rally hosted by Lawrence High’s SAFeR (Students Advocating Firearm Education and Reform) club.

Students from Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and West Middle School also walked to South Park for the rally, with students from Free State High School and at least one other middle school carpooling to the park that day.

Lawrence Police Department officers were on hand throughout the event to make sure students were safe.