Students suspended after protest outside school

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, KY — We’re seeing more young people exercise their First Amendment rights by expressing their views through protest.

More than 20 students tried that at Livingston County High School, and they were suspended. Now, many of them will be taking zeros on their final exams.

In the Livingston County Code of Conduct, the recommended punishment for skipping class the first time is up to 10 days of alternative class. Under that punishment, students would still be able to take their finals. It also states, ultimately, it’s the principal’s call on what punishment students get and what is a fair length.

Superintendent Victor Zimmerman says students were suspended for refusing to come inside after two class periods.

Livingston County Schools Superintendent Victor Zimmerman says he wants students to be able to voice their concerns in a proactive, peaceful and civil way. But, he says, after students missed two class periods and refused to follow administrator’s directions and come inside “enough was enough.”

He insists the students were not suspended because they were protesting, but rather because they were being defiant to authority. He tells us the punishment mostly impacted sophomores and, to his knowledge, isn’t ruining anyone’s graduation. He says the students who did come inside did not get suspended.

We obtained cell phone video of the protest, in which you clearly hear an administrator pleading with students to go into the school, sit in the gym, and talk out the issue.

Zimmerman says staying outside was disruptive to the school day and not safe for the students.

No one was reprimanded for the National School Walk-Out Day at Livingston County. It leads some students involved in the more recent protest to believe they’re being picked on because the school administration doesn’t agree with their cause.

Their cause relates to a teacher’s contract not being renewed. I know very little able the details of the teacher. Zimmerman says the educator hasn’t been at the school since February. The teacher’s sister, one of the protesters last week, says he is falsely accused of something and there is an ongoing investigation. She still feels his job was ended too prematurely.

Student Tanner Hickson says: “They’re trying to shut us up for speaking up for a man who had morals and values and he cared about his students.”

“They’ve given us several warnings to come back in and sit in the gym and talk, but yet we know deep down inside, if we go back inside, even though nothing is going to happen, our questions won’t be answered,” he says.

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