Several hundred students at the Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) conducted a walk-out on Monday, April 19, starting at 1 pm. As noted in a previous story the walk-out was part of a state-wide, student-organized event in solidarity against racial injustice.
In an earlier email on the subject of the walk-out, EPHS Principal Robb Virgin the school grounds would be secured from 12:45 p.m. until about 2 p.m. and the public and news media would not be allowed in the area.
Based on observations, the student walk-out went beyond the 2 pm. cut-off. A student could be heard on a bullhorn addressing the crowd of several hundred. Skies were overcast with an occasional snow flurry and as temperatures hovered in the high 30’s/low 40’s accompanied by a brisk wind.
The student walk-out at EPHS occurred at the same time as the Eric Nelson, the defense attorney in police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial over the death of George Floyd was making his closing arguments.
Central Middle School students join in walk-out
Several hundred middle school students from Eden Prairie Central Middle School also participated in a walk-out, according to EP’s Black Student Union Instagram account (epbsu).
Brett Johnson, EP Schools Senior Director of Community Relations & Communications relayed a statement regarding the impact of the walkout on participating students: “We respect students’ rights to express themselves and to support issues they care about. A walkout is, by its design, not a school-sponsored event. Schools have an obligation to take accurate attendance. A student would be marked absent from a class if they are not in class when attendance is taken. If a parent/guardian doesn’t excuse the absence, it would become unexcused.”
Johnson said about 400 students participated and the event was peaceful. “They gathered at the bus loop at the east entrance of the school. Students speakers were forthright and honest, and everyone listened intently to them. There was a moment of silence at 1:47 and then students returned to class.”
Russ Reetz, Associate Principal of Athletics and Activities at EP Schools said “We are not using attendance for 4th period to determine if kids can practice/play. They’ll be held harmless.”
Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Johnson’s crowd estimate comments and info about the walk-out involving CMS students was added during the evening of April 19.
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