Thousands of Philadelphia students walked out of class Friday and marched to school district headquarters and City Hall to protest massive cuts in public school funding.
The act of civil disobedience drew praise and criticism but it also could draw disciplinary action for the students that left class.
Philadelphia Student Union, a youth-led action group that helped organize the walkout, tweeted Monday (@125studentunion) that students at both West Philly and Bartram High Schools were being suspended for leaving class.
Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard, however, says that as of Monday afternoon no students were suspended and that suspensions would be highly unlikely for most students even those that cut class to protest.
Gallard said he spoke with Bartram principal Constance Mcalister and that she told him that she was speaking to each student the left school but that no one at that point had been suspended.
According to the district, students under the age of 18 that walked out have up to three days to produce a note from their parent or guardian that said that they had permission to leave school. If that child doesn’t produce such a note or a phone call from a parent they then can face disciplinary actions starting with in-school detentions for first offenses.
If a student is 18 or older he or she can sign out as they please, Gallard said.
Even if a student already has unexcused absences or other infractions on his or her record, they normally are allowed up to three or four of these incidents until a suspension is considered.
Gallard says that a second offense normally would warrant two days of detention and a third infraction a three-day detention. The detentions are meant to be used by the student to complete homework or other learning inside the building after school hours.
A suspension is a possible action that individual schools can take on a student by student basis but would only come into effect for a student with a history of disciplinary issues, according to Gallard.
An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 students participated in Friday’s walkout in protest of proposed cuts to cover a $300 million budget shortfall.
Gallard said exact figures on how many students walked out weren’t available as of Monday afternoon.