Sixth-grader suspended for school safety walkout | KOB 4
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Sixth-grader suspended for school safety walkout

Caleb James
March 15, 2018 11:32 AM

RIO RANCHO, N.M. -- Most students in one district risked discipline for skipping class if they took part in Wednesday's walkouts, as others did across the country. However, but one Rio Rancho middle schooler said her treatment went beyond any punishment on paper.

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Ryan Barber admits she singled herself out. The 12-year-old was the one and only Mountain View Middle School student to walk out of the building. She stood alone in protest, and then she was suspended.

"I felt like they made it feel like my opinion was wrong and I didn't have a say in it," said Barber, a sixth-grader.

As kids across the country stood up and walked out of class at 10 a.m. local time, Barber made a pact with some friends to take a stand. When the time came, Barber found herself walking out of the building all by herself.

"I was actually doing something. It mattered," she said. "At least I was brave enough. At least strong enough."

Barber admits students were warned there would be consequences. Suspension was even mentioned on the morning announcements. Barber said she may have singled herself out, but she said a teacher who caught up to her outside took it somewhere else.

"She's like, 'Oh you can't do that here. We did the 17 seconds of silence and that's all you got," she said. "And I said, 'I don't think so.'"

Barber said she defended her right to protest, and was shamed for it.

"'You can go do your stupid protest in the library then," she said she was told. "I didn't say anything, and then another teacher walked me up to the library."

Barber was immediately placed in in-school suspension. She said she accepts the punishment despite it being on her permanent record.

Rio Rancho Public Schools Wednesday announced students who walked out of class in the district would receive only an unexcused absence, but a district spokeswoman said the policy only applied to high schoolers. Barber said the unspoken punishment was worse.

A district spokesperson told KOB "Consequences for middle school students choosing to walk out are based on the middle school discipline matrix. A walkout would be considered ditching which is one day in-school suspension."

"I think that they made it feel like it was just meaningless, like I walked out just so I could leave the classroom," she said. "When I walked out to show that it mattered."

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Caleb James

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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