Politician: Schools should stay out of ‘walkout’ movement

Kent County

LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Clerk has gone public with her concerns about how Lowell Area Schools handled students engaging in the national school walkout movement this week.

The movement in response to the Parkland, Florida school massacre involved students leaving class across the nation at 10 a.m. on the one-month anniversary of the attack. The event was planned by Women’s March Youth Empower, an organization that has called for increased legislation surrounding gun control. 

Like several other schools in West Michigan, Lowell High School leaders planned for students who wanted to “walk out” to gather in the school gym with adult supervision instead of leaving the building altogether.

Along with her husband, Lisa Posthumus Lyons, a Republican and former State House representative who now serves as the Kent County Clerk, wrote a letter to Lowell Area Schools Superintendent Gregory Pratt voicing her concerns about the school getting involved in the walkout plans.

“Something needed to be said,” Posthumus Lyons said. “We just don’t feel that our schools and our students should be used in a political manner.”

School officials said the event at Lowell was a memorial for the victims and not intended to make a political statement. Lowll High school was not listed as a participant on the Womens March Youth Empower page.

Pratt said his focus when getting involved was on school safety. He feared that without a structured plan, the 200 students who participated in the event might have walked away on their own.

“This was an opportunity for students to select to do this,” Pratt said. “It wasn’t something that the students had to be a part of.”

School leaders received negative feedback on both sides of the issue, Pratt said. Some parents thought the school did too much while others thought the efforts were anemic on such an important issue.

“On that particular day, we did what our students needed for that time,” Pratt said. “In the future, that may be different depending on what events transpire between now and the months to come.”

Posthumus Lyons said her protestation of the issue isn’t rooted in politics — but on the principle that schools should stay out of them.

“We can put ourselves in a position of being well-intentioned but naive,” she said. “Whether its conservative or liberal, we think everybody should be concerned about that.”

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