Education
Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, center, marches with other young climate activists for a climate strike outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019.
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Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, center, marches with other young climate activists for a climate strike outside the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019.
Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Seattle students protest superintendent's decision on Climate Strike

At Wednesday's Seattle School Board meeting, student leaders called on the superintendent to rethink her decision to not excuse absences for students participating in Friday's Global Climate Strike.

Rainier Beach High School junior Angelina Riley read from a letter signed by the members of the superintendent's Student Advisory Board: “This is a movement that we strongly encourage you to support. The things we learn in school will be no use when we are fighting for our lives and clean air and water."

"Fighting to save our planet through the strike is an honorable act that will ultimately make us better citizens. Enforcing unexcused absences for the strike is essentially punishing students for trying to make a change in the world," Riley read.

Washington Middle School student Zoe Schurman called on the district to support students' efforts to confront the climate crisis.

"If you want us to succeed, if you truly care about us, then you should let us strike to save our futures. Why should we be punished for doing the things adults can't, or won't?" Schurman said.

Superintendent Denise Juneau told KUOW that she supports students’ right to attend the rally at Cal Anderson Park, but that the law does not permit excused absences for that reason.

"State law clearly outlines they can certainly be checked out by their parent, they can certainly engage in all of these activities, but it does result in an unexcused absence," Juneau said.

In fact, state law permits students two excused absences a year — with parental permission — "for a reason of faith or conscience."

Riley pointed out that 1.1 million students in New York City public schools will have their absences excused to attend the Climate Strike.

The Seattle City Council passed a resolution Monday encouraging Seattle Schools to do the same, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee has also said he would excuse student absences to attend the rallies if he could.