Students present list of demands for safer schools to SCS board members

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The peaceful sounds of the Cordova High School choir started Monday night's Shelby County School Board meeting.

Then it was on to the business of student activists pushing for safe, peaceful schools.

About half a dozen students presented the board with a list of demands.  White Station freshman Savannah Thompson wants a district-wide sexual misconduct policy.

"I have been, and still am placed in classes with people who have sexually harassed me," Thompson said. "And then I'm told to be less dramatic and to not make a big deal out of it.  It's a big deal."

Additional one-on-one time between students and educators, more counselors, and fewer kids kicked out of school are also among the demands.

"I believe enforcing alternatives to suspensions and expulsions will take more time," Central High senior Hali Smith told the board. "However, it will help students and staff understand each other."

The creation of conflict resolution courses for grades K-8 is another critical demand.

District leaders allowed last week's school walkout, where hundreds of students across the county marched to end gun violence and promote safe schools.

SCS administrators have also encouraged students to speak out on issues that matter to them. It's been a successful partnership, so far.

"For this to continue, youth must continue to have a seat at the table," said Ridgeway High junior Mallori King. "The youth of SCS are going to use their voices. The question is, will you listen?"

At least one of the students' demands has already been addressed.

Next year's proposed budget calls for $5 million to hire 35 more guidance counselors and 10 new behavioral specialists.

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