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Superintendent's Message



Excerpt from Superintendent Comments

March 15, 2018


On Wednesday, students across our school district took part in the student-led walkouts. The students were orderly, calm, peaceful and respectful.  Leadership staff from the District Office were at every site where a walkout was planned to support site leaders in ensuring safety for students. At all sites where a walkout occurred, students were encouraged to achieve their goals by congregating in a safe area on campus.  Our partners in the Davis Police Department were on the ready to ensure student safety, if any student walkout proceeded off campus as occurred in November of 2016.  


Prior to Wednesday, students and our school community received clear communications from my office and from our site leaders consistent with the guidance provided post-Presidential election in 2016 and our current district policy, that students who leave class to participate in protests or other unauthorized  reasons would be considered “unexcused”. Families of students of all ages were encouraged to discuss the issue and their expectations.


Over the last few days we have been receiving a great deal of feedback from our community about the student walkout.


The comments have come in three forms.


  1. Gratitude for district efforts to keep students safe and allow space for all voices and perspectives to be heard and respected
  2. Support for student activism and a call to change our district policy to do away with unexcused absences for protests and walkouts
  3. Opposition to any student demonstrations during school hours and calls for punitive measures on those who take part. 


As the Superintendent, I am well-acquainted with situations and issues that can be polarizing. Healthy debate and discussion is encouraged in a democracy and we are happy to listen to community feedback on this and all issues.  Our role as an educational institution is to be open to all perspectives and to protect the rights of all students and to adhere to the policies set forth by this Board of Education.  I am proud of our students who expressed their beliefs in a respectful and peaceful way and recognizing that an unexcused absence would result. And, I have no doubt about the heart and passions of those students and of the adults on our campuses who remained in the class on Wednesday.   Undoubtedly, school safety remains of central importance no matter how we choose to express ourselves.




Dear Davis Joint Unified School District Students, Staff, Families and Community:


Our schools are aware of and prepared for possible student walkouts protesting school violence and advocating for school safety and gun control that are being planned in the upcoming days, weeks and months in our district and across the nation.


As we have seen in recent incidents involving threats to Harper Junior High School, the safety of students and our schools is a community concern and we must all work together on this issue. As a school district we are working thoughtfully and carefully to improve the physical safety of our campuses, to better manage visitor registration, to more fully meet the social, emotional and mental health needs of our students, and much more.  It is important that all of us continue to work on and to think carefully about the issues of school safety and instruction.


Wednesday, March 14 marks a day of national interest around gun control activism. Our schools, depending on the level of interest from students, are prepared to engage students in discourse and activities that model civic engagement.  We also know some students will want to be part of the walkouts that are occurring nationally. As a school district we support student First Amendment rights, but must ensure student safety and uphold district policies and administrative regulations.  We share with you the following guidance so our community is clear on how Davis Joint Unified will be approaching any student walkouts.


Davis Joint Unified School District Guidance on Student Protests or Walkouts


   We look to preserve safety above all else

  • The role of our teaching staff during a student walkout will be to provide instruction in a safe classroom environment. Other school staff members and administrators will be available on campus to maintain the safety of students who choose to leave class.
  • Students choosing to walk out of class during school hours will be encouraged to achieve their goals in the safest and least disruptive way, such as by congregating in a safe area on campus.
  • When possible and necessary, DJUSD will coordinate with local law enforcement for any needed assistance in the monitoring of any walkout or protest in order to ensure student safety.
  • While we generally welcome visitors to campus after checking in at the school front office, during events like assemblies or potential student protests, the number one priority is student safety. If a walkout occurs, administrators may decide to close the campus in order to direct staff attention to student safety. Parents may make arrangements to check out their student from the front office in advance of an event, but if the campus is declared closed, the office will be unable to accommodate requests until the campus is reopened.

Students are protected by First Amendment rights to free speech and must also abide by school rules.

  • Students who leave class to participate in protests or other unauthorized  reasons will be considered “unexcused.” (See Board Policy 5131.4 and Administrative Regulation 5131. 4.) Specifically for junior high and high school students, in accordance with DJUSD Secondary Standards for Student Behavior, students who participate in the student walkout (scheduled for March 14, 2018)  will be marked as unexcused. An unexcused absence, in this case, will result in a phone call notification of the absence to the parent/guardian.  For information regarding unexcused absence policy visit your school’s Student Handbook.
  • Expectations for student behavior will be maintained in order to ensure safety.

 School is a safe place for diverse points of view

  • We recognize a student’s right to protest and the right to not partake in such activity.
  • Because students have the right to a free and public education, those choosing not to participate in a protest retain the right to receive instruction in class with their teacher.
  • The Board of Education recognizes that the district's educational program may sometimes include instruction related to controversial issues that may arouse strong reactions based on personal values and beliefs, political philosophy, culture, religion, or other influences. Instruction concerning such topics shall be relevant to the adopted course of study and curricular goals and should be designed to develop students' critical thinking skills, ability to discriminate between fact and opinion, respect for others, and understanding and tolerance of diverse points of view.  This is consistent with Board Policy 6144 - Controversial Issues.

We encourage families to discuss these important issues and talk with students about this event and expectations. Thank you to all in our community who care deeply about Davis students and schools.




John A. Bowes, Ed.D.

Davis Joint Unified Superintendent




Guía sobre las marchas de estudiantes


Estimados estudiantes, miembros del personal, familias y comunidad del Distrito Escolar Unificado Davis:


Nuestras escuelas están en conocimiento y preparadas para casos posibles de violencia en las marchas de protestas de estudiantes, y defienden la seguridad de las escuelas y el control de armas que se está planificando para los próximos días, semanas y meses en nuestro distrito y en toda la nación.


Como hemos visto en los incidentes recientes que involucraron amenazas a la Escuela Intermedia Harper, la seguridad de los estudiantes y nuestras escuelas es una preocupación de la comunidad y debemos trabajar juntos en este problema. Como distrito escolar, estamos trabajando con esmero y cuidado para mejorar la seguridad física de nuestros campus, mejorar la administración del registro de las visitas, satisfacer mejor las necesidades sociales, emocionales y mentales de nuestros estudiantes, y mucho más. Es importante que todos nosotros sigamos trabajando atentamente en los problemas de seguridad escolar y enseñanza.


El miércoles 14 de marzo marca un día de interés nacional respecto al activismo de control de armas. Nuestras escuelas, dependiendo del nivel de interés de los estudiantes, están preparadas para que los estudiantes participen de discursos y actividades que modelan la participación cívica. También sabemos que algunos estudiantes querrán participar de las protestas que ocurren a nivel nacional. Como distrito escolar, apoyamos los derechos de los estudiantes de la primera enmienda, pero debemos garantizar la seguridad de los estudiantes y aplicar las políticas y regulaciones administrativas del distrito. Queremos compartir con ustedes la siguiente guía para que nuestra comunidad tenga claro cómo el Distrito Escolar Unificado Davis abordará las protestas de estudiantes.


Guía del Distrito Escolar Unificado Davis sobre las protestas o marchas de estudiantes


Sobre todo, buscamos preservar la seguridad

  • La labor de nuestro personal docente durante las marchas de estudiantes será enseñar en un salón de clases con ambiente seguro. Habrá personal y administradores de otras escuelas disponibles en el campus para mantener la seguridad de los estudiantes que decidan salir de clases.
  • Se animará a los estudiantes que decidan salir durante el horario de clases a alcanzar sus metas de la forma más segura y menos alborotadora posible, como reunirse en un área segura del campus.
  • Cuando sea posible y necesario, el Distrito Escolar Unificado Davis se coordinará con la policía local en caso de que se necesite ayuda para supervisar cualquier marcha o protesta, para asegurar la seguridad de los estudiantes.
  • Mientras que, por lo general, les damos la bienvenida a las visitas en el campus después de que registran su llegada en la oficina principal, durante eventos como asambleas o posibles protestas de estudiantes, la prioridad es la seguridad de los estudiantes. Si se lleva a cabo una marcha, los administradores pueden decidir cerrar el campus para dirigir la atención del personal a la seguridad de los estudiantes. Los padres de familia pueden hacer los arreglos necesarios para venir a buscar a sus estudiantes en la oficina principal con anticipación a los eventos, pero si se declara que el campus está cerrado, la oficina no podrá responder a todas las solicitudes hasta que el campus vuelva a estar abierto.

Los estudiantes están protegidos por el derecho a la libre expresión de la primera enmienda y también deben seguir las reglas de la escuela

  • Los estudiantes que salgan de clases para participar en protestas o por otros motivos no autorizados serán considerados injustificados. (Ver la Política de la Mesa Directiva 5131.4 y la Regulación Administrativa 5131. 4.) Específicamente, los estudiantes de escuela intermedia y preparatoria, según los estándares secundarios de conducta estudiantil del Distrito Escolar Unificado Davis, que quieran participar en la marcha de estudiantes (programada para el 14 de marzo de 2018) serán considerados como injustificados. En este caso, una falta injustificada resultará en una notificación telefónica de la falta al padre de familia/tutor. Vea el manual del estudiante de su escuela para conocer más información sobre la política de faltas injustificadas.
  • Se mantendrán las expectativas de conducta de los estudiantes para garantizar la seguridad.

La escuela es un lugar seguro para tener puntos de vista diversos

  • Reconocemos el derecho de los estudiantes a protestar y el derecho a no participar de tal actividad.
  • Ya que los estudiantes tienen derecho a educación gratis y pública, los que decidan no participar en las protestas mantienen el derecho a recibir clases en los salones con sus maestros.
  • La Mesa Directiva de Educación reconoce que el programa del distrito a veces puede incluir enseñanza relacionada con temas controversiales, que pueden generar reacciones intensas según los valores personales y creencias, filosofías políticas, cultura, religión u otras influencias. La enseñanza de tales temas debe ser relevante al curso de estudio y las metas curriculares adoptadas, y debe estar diseñada para desarrollar las destrezas de pensamiento crítico de los estudiantes, la habilidad de discriminar entre hechos y opiniones, respetar a los demás, y entender y tolerar varios puntos de vista. Esto concuerda con la Política de la Mesa Directiva 6144 - Temas controversiales.

Las familias deben pensar atentamente en estos temas importantes y hablar con los estudiantes sobre estos eventos y sus expectativas. Gracias a todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad que se preocupan mucho por los estudiantes y las escuelas de Davis.




John A. Bowes, Doctor en Educación

Superintendente del Distrito Unificado Davis