National School Walkout: Backlash over punishing students

Thousands of students across the country walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday morning to protest gun violence. The walkout came exactly one month after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Juliet Castaneda, an 8th grader, and 46 other students from Hicksville Middle School walked out for 17 minutes. She said she wanted to honor the 17 people who died. But when she and the others walked back into the school, they were told they would be suspended.

"I don't think it's fair because they didn't even acknowledge the fact that 17 people lost their lives and people lost their loved ones," 7th grader Anaya Raymond said.

These students say the school didn't have a plan or even acknowledge the national school walk out.

Juliet's mother, Shirley Castaneda, told Fox 5 she got a call from the assistant principal saying that her daughter would be suspended along with the other students who walked out. However, the suspension later turned into a lunch detention. And now Shirley was told the students will have the option to attend an assembly to talk about what happened.

"They know they did something wrong—they are at fault," Shirley said. "The children didn't do anything wrong and they know it."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is backing the students. He called on the state's top education official to overturn any disciplinary action against students who walked out of school. He sent Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia an open letter.

"These actions send a terrible message to New York's children and are against constitutional free speech protections," Cuomo wrote. "I call on you to use SED's authority to stop these schools, reverse course and cease any disciplinary actions."