WHEATLAND — The Prince kids usually get along really well, but Wednesday was a different story. Two of them say they were given the choice to participate in a national movement while at school and one says he wasn’t.
“I was kind of forced to go out,” Colby Prince said.
Colby says that’s how he felt in his integrated math class when he heard teacher Angela Harris deny another student what he himself wanted – to opt out of Wheatland Union High School’s observance of the National School Walkout.
The walkout was planned and promulgated across the country by student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, meant to honor the dead by standing up for reforms to America’s gun laws.
Districts nationwide navigated the political part of all this by allowing kids to participate in just a memorial for the 17 people killed during the 10 a.m. walkout time.
That’s how it was in Plumas Lake, the neighboring district where Colby’s sister Aubrey got to choose to walk out.
Why does the seventh grader think it’s important students had a say in what they did?
“I think it’s important because maybe our school authorities realized we didn’t all have the same opinion,” said Aubrey.
Colby, a junior, says there was confusion over what the focus was in Wheatland.
“I was stuck between wanting to honor the kids and not wanting to protest gun rights because, you know, (I’m) pro gun,” he said.
By phone, Wheatland administrators Lynne Tafoya and Cy Olsen told FOX40 that student leadership hadn’t expressed any desire to be part of the walkout until this morning.
In trying to accommodate them 17 chairs were moved to the quad for 17 minutes of silence to remember the dead.
Colby’s sister Bailey says her class on the same campus was given the choice to go or not, accounting for some of the 150 kids who went to the quad versus the 600 others who didn’t.
Their mom, Liz Parish, didn’t hear anything about a Wheatland walkout until she saw other parents complaining on Plumas Lake Chatter about their teens being forced to go outside.
“It made me mad,” she said.
Wheatland administrators Tafoya and Olsen told FOX40, all students know if they ever feel uncomfortable with something they can come to the office and that no one came Wednesday.
“I know it’s told to them, but when it’s exercised it doesn’t seem like it’s heard,” Parish said.
“I really felt like if I went to the office they would have told me to go back out there,” said Colby.
“The way they handled it wasn’t ok. Voices were heard and voices were hushed,” said Parish.
Wheatland administrators say they’re perfectly happy to sit down with parents who have concerns about how the walkout was handled.
They haven’t heard from any families as of yet, but Parish says she plans to ask for a meeting.