Des Moines Schools Praised for Allowing District-Wide Political Protests

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tuesday night's Des Moines Public School board meeting felt more like a politically rally.

Des Moines East High school senior, Jalesha Johnson stood before the board and thanked them for allowing a district-wide “walk-out” the day following the election.

“I just wanted to thank Des Moines Public Schools for supporting us in a time when we feel like the government won’t do that anymore,” she says.

Dozens of students gathered in the school board chambers at Central Campus and linked arms, as they explained the meaning of last week’s protest; not protesting to change the outcome of the election but rather how the outcome of the election could change them.

“We did it in support of those people who are scared and in fear of the fact Donald Trump did become president,” says Daniela Vazquez.

While countless people shared their feelings of gratitude towards the district not everyone agreed with its decision.

Scott Sengbusch calls the “walk-out” absurd and a waste of tax payer dollars. He says he's all for public demonstrations just not during school hours.

“They have all the time after school and on the weekends,” he says. “Their job is to be in class. The district's job that I’m paying for is to educate them.”

School board members did not echo that attitude but rather praised the students for practicing their rights, comparing it to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Tinker vs. Des Moines. Several school board members wore black arm bands, a symbol of the ruling which ultimately allowed students speech to be protected while at school.

A symbol of community support student activists hope will change the perception of millennials.

“If we know something is happening and we don`t do anything about it, that`s the type of generation that we are portrayed as but that is not the type of generation we are,” says Johnson.

The district adds it hopes students will continue to stay politically engaged and speak out on the issues that matter that matter to them.


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