WASHINGTON — After violence broke out Wednesday morning at a student-led protest of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, Montgomery County’s schools chief is asking students to stop protesting during school hours — and warning they may face disciplinary action if they continue.
In a video message released Wednesday evening, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said he is “asking and expecting all students to remain in school and participate in the daily educational program as intended.”
If students don’t comply, “they may be subjected to the regular disciplinary actions that align with whatever infraction is involved,” he said.
In the video, Smith said recent protests “have unfortunately generated valid concerns regarding the security of our students outside of our schools.”
A 17-year-old is facing second-degree assault charges after another teen in a “Make America Great Again” hat — associated with Trump’s presidential campaign — was assaulted by a group of student protesters Wednesday morning outside Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland.
Wednesday’s protest was the first reported instance of physical violence at an anti-Trump protest in the D.C. area.
“When students are threatened or injured as part of a protest, it raises serious safety issues that require us to rethink the situation,” Smith said. “Our goal is to keep our students safe, under adult supervision and engaged in the learning process.”
The protests outside Richard Montgomery High School and other parts of Montgomery County marked the third day of protests in the D.C. region by students opposing Trump’s election to the presidency. On Tuesday, hundreds of D.C. high schools students walked out of class for a series of peaceful protests at Trump’s downtown D.C. hotel, the Capitol building and the Supreme Court.
In the video, Smith added that there has also been a recent increase in hate-related vandalism on school property, echoing comments he made in a statement earlier this week, after swastikas and racial slurs were discovered scrawled on bathroom walls at a few Montgomery County schools.
“These are deeply disturbing incidents,” he said. “Vandalism is illegal. This type of horrible vandalism is illegal.”
Students caught vandalizing school property or engaging in hate speech or bullying will be punished, Smith said.
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