As planned student-led walkouts gain momentum across the country, the Akron school board spent a large portion of its regular meeting Monday discussing ways to allow Akron students to participate while keeping them safe.

In response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day, students across the country are organizing a series of demonstrations to take place over the next few months.

The first planned is a national school walkout at 10 a.m. March 14.

The Women’s March’s Youth Empower group is organizing the walkouts on the national scale, while student leaders are responsible for making it happen in their individual schools. The walkouts are planned for just 17 minutes, to honor the 17 people who were killed in Florida.

The board spent nearly double that time discussing the potential repercussions the mass of students might face when outside the buildings at a time of unease, especially surrounding school safety.

“We primarily would prefer students stay inside for things, just because of the safety issue,” said Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams-Woods. “To have hundreds and hundreds of students potentially going outside does not feel comfortable for us because of the national nature of this.”

School board members discussed their options with McWilliams-Woods and Pat Shipe, president of the Akron Education Association (AEA) teachers union, who was at the meeting.

McWilliams-Woods suggested discussing it further with teachers and principals to let each school handle it separately. The group also talked about giving students a designated space, either in or out of the building, to do what they want for those 17 minutes.

Still, a driving purpose of the demonstrations is to allow students to call the shots and have their voices heard.

“My concern is if we take too much away from them, then it’s not student-led,” Bravo said. “I think providing them with this runway and safe space and letting them figure out what they want to do is probably the best thing.”

During the meeting, Superintendent David James addressed rumors that students will be suspended for three days if they participate in the walkout. James said he thinks the rumor originated from Wisconsin, where a school board there has taken that position.

“That’s their board and their district, and I know we’re a little different,” James said.

While there aren’t set reprimands in place, the board said it will work for the next few days to agree on what students are permitted to do and what disciplinary actions will be set if they don’t follow the rules.

“We want to be as flexible as possible with our policies to be sure our students can express themselves and have a voice in the safest possible manner,” Bravo said. “We’re going to be leaving that up to staff and buildings to figure out, but we’re going to be intentional about including the AEA and teachers so they can support our students as well.”

The board also unanimously approved measures, including:

• Naming Brandi Davis, the current principal of Schumacher CLC, as the principal of the I Promise School when it opens this summer. Davis has worked for the district since 1999 and has been on the LeBron James Family Foundation’s elementary advisory board since 2008.

• Purchasing 4,019 Chromebooks and 5,001 cases for grades 3-5 for a little more than $1 million. By next fall, every student in the district will have a Chromebook in the district’s 1:World Initiative.

• Accepting a $900,000 in-kind donation from Kent State University for services and resources toward the development of the curriculum and programming over the next five years as part of the recently announced partnership between the university and the district.

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.