South Broward High School senior Elijah Ruby had been handing out fliers advertising a climate change protest when a school administrator told him he would be suspended from campus for a day and barred from attending prom and other special class events.
“I feel disappointed because those are the sort of things you remember for a long time,” said Ruby, 17. “You remember going with your girlfriend to prom.”
The fliers contained information about the upcoming Global Youth Climate Strike in Broward County on Sept. 20, part of a worldwide series of student strikes that day. The Broward protest will occur in front of the Broward County School Board building in Fort Lauderdale.
Ruby said he had previously posted fliers that had been removed by the school and was warned against handing out fliers, but that no one had told him he risked suspension by distributing them.
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Last week, Ruby said he had asked school administrators if they could allow students to participate in the strike by hosting a field trip for the event. Earlier Thursday, they informed him they would not sponsor a field trip, Ruby said.
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According to Ruby, school administrators said the event could be dangerous and it could not in good conscience sponsor students to attend the event. South Broward High School administrators could not be reached for comment.
“I think that’s extremely short-sighted thinking,” Ruby said. “Because what is going to be most dangerous for kids is that we have eleven years to totally change our economy and eliminate carbon in the atmosphere or we will face devastation.”
Ruby’s parents defended their son’s climate activism and were upset that the school did not do more to help students participate in the climate strike.
“I totally support his belief and his action and his wanting to stand up for it,” said Ruby’s mother, Stacy Wolfe. “It is unfortunate that the school has to resort to a suspension for such a noble cause.”
“Schools have processes in place regarding approvals for the distribution of materials, including fliers, on campus,” a spokesperson for Broward County School District wrote in an email. “Students are also expected to adhere to guidance provided to them regarding the distribution of these materials. Any disciplinary measures are in accordance with the Code Book of Student Conduct.”
The district said it could not comment on Ruby’s case due to privacy concerns.
Until this year, Ruby had been a part of his high school’s Maritime Magnet program which offers students classes related to the maritime industry while encouraging environmental stewardship of coral reefs and oceans.
“Trying to teach about preserving the environment without the lens of social activism is kind of pointless,” Ruby said.
Another Broward public school, Cypress Bay High School, will be sending over 60 of its students to the climate strike event along with three teacher chaperones, according to Nicole Buckley, 17, a senior at Cypress Bay.
While both the Broward and Miami-Dade County School districts have said they will not offer students excused absences to attend climate strikes on Friday, Broward schools can still host field trips to the event.
“Local field trips do not require an approval beyond the school principal’s level” according to school board policies.
“I’m going to the strike tomorrow because it is past time that government has taken initiative on this issue,” Buckley said. “We have seen time and time again that this free market that they have been relying on hasn’t solved this problem.”
“There needs to be some form of governmental regulation and it needed to happen years ago and at the very least it needs to happen now,” she added.
Source : https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article235272082.html1283