Minutes after the final bell rang at Guyer High School on Thursday, parents got an email from Principal Shaun Perry about the student walkout planned for Friday.
A large number of students are expected to stage a walkout Friday to protest a sexual assault alleged to have happened Oct. 6 on the Guyer campus. The Denton Record-Chronicle is not naming the accuser or the accused — both of whom are Guyer students — because no arrest has been made.
The email said “outsiders” would be prohibited from participating in the walkout, a move that would bar parents who said they intended to be there for their daughters and other supporters at the protest. Per Denton ISD, Denton Police Department spokesperson Allison Beckwith said anyone who is not a student or staff member is considered an outsider.
“Parents are allowed on campus for the purposes of school business,” Julie Zwahr, the school district’s chief communications officer, said in a text message. “Visitors are not allowed on campus if they are a distraction to the learning environment, that’s standard.”
The walkout is also a response to what parents have said is a culture of sexual harassment, coercion and aggression at the high school and throughout Denton ISD middle and high schools.
The email sent to Guyer parents said the school has had an increased police presence this week. Guyer students returned to school Wednesday after staff workdays on Monday and Tuesday.
“There have been social media posts about a student walkout each day, and both school officials and law enforcement were afraid traffic might be blocked, putting students in danger,” Zwahr said.
Beckwith said the police presence is to protect students’ right to protest and to be there proactively as there are several roadways near the school.
“We’re going to be cooperating and also enforcing no outside visitors,” Beckwith said.
Violators could potentially face a Class C misdemeanor for criminal trespass. Beckwith said police would evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether that would mean criminal trespass notices or arrests. Beckwith said officers don’t expect anything to happen Friday to prompt arrests.
The email said school officials and police would be watching “the potential protest site.”
In his email, Perry made no reference to a sexual assault, referring to the allegations as an “incident.” He said officials expect students to stay in class and for teachers to take attendance.
“I have shared these expectations with our faculty and staff, and each of us stand ready to assist our students as we move forward,” Perry said in the email. “Our staff works tirelessly to provide the safest possible learning environment that fosters healthy relationships.”
Jennifer Jenkinson, a parent who spoke out about the school district’s response to harassment, unwanted touching and violence against female students, said the email gave her pause. Other parents contacted the Denton Record-Chronicle to share responses they sent directly to Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson. Several parents called for Guyer officials to be fired for failure to protect and support female students.
“There have been other walkouts before this since our kids have been there, and we’ve never gotten an email like this,” Jenkinson said.
She said parents still intend to be a physical presence for their teens on Friday.
“We’re going to get as close as we can,” she said. “We’re going to be there to support our girls.”
Jenkinson said the walkout is expected to begin at 9:50 a.m. The school’s opening bell sounds at 7:45 a.m.