Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked state education officials Thursday to investigate reports that some New York schools prevented students from taking part in Wednesday’s nationwide student walkout to protest gun violence.
In a letter the Democrat sent to Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, Cuomo called on her to look into any reports of schools blocking exits so students couldn’t leave.
Cuomo called such actions “an egregious safety violation” and unlawful. His letter mentioned reports of schools in New York state disciplining students and faculty for participating in the event, and Cuomo asked Elia to use her authority “to stop these schools, reverse course, and cease any disciplinary actions.”
Newsday reported that students in at least three Long Island school districts were suspended.
“Threatening to discipline students for participating in the peaceful demonstrations is not only inappropriate, it is unconstitutional,” Cuomo said in his letter.
Elia responded Thursday in a letter to the governor that she too supported the students who exercised their free speech rights, and that her agency will investigate “any reports where the safety of students was put in jeopardy, as we always do.”
Her letter didn’t address Cuomo’s request that disciplinary actions against students and faculty be overturned.
Cuomo joined students in New York City who walked out of their school for a “die-in” demonstration in Manhattan. He laid down on the pavement and joined students in chanting “Gun control now!”