ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Outraged parents, disappointed students and frustrated parents filled the Hazelwood school board meeting Tuesday night.
It's the aftermath of a student-led walkout at Hazelwood West High school Monday afternoon.
Dozens of students have been suspended and some will not be able to participate in the high school graduation ceremony.
Parents were not allowed to make a formal comment on the matter at the school board meeting last night because the issue was not listed on the agenda. School board member Mark Belmann made a motion to try and allow a parent to speak on the issue, but it was voted down by the majority of the board.
Many parents started speaking out at the meeting to each other, voicing their concerns and encouraging everyone to work as a group to get the suspension lifted. Some of them plan on trying to take so sort of immediate legal action so that their kids may have a chance at participating in the graduation ceremony this weekend.
School leaders declined to go on camera, but they did release a statement saying that the Hazelwood high school principals sent an autodial reminder message to parents and guardians about the importance of their student staying in class and in school over the weekend.
District leaders say the message also reminded parents of the consequences that students would face for violating the district policies.
Several students told 5 on Your Side that they don't regret taking part in the walk-out, even though they are now suspended, including senior class president Kyra Pearson. She says her mom was sad at first because she will not get to see her daughter walk the stage and graduation, but that her family understands why she made the decision to support the teachers.
The students say they organized the walk-out because they wanted to show support for their teachers who were in contract negations with the district. They felt as though the teachers were getting a bad deal.
Diane Livingston, Hazelwood NEA Teachers' Union president says the teachers voted again on the contract that the district proposed before spring break. Initially the union voted against the contract. Livingston says it does not offer the teachers any raises, make any compensation for the lack of the raises and requires the teachers to work additional hours. Livingston said she wanted the district to consider negotiating the contract again, but the district agreed to do so next school year.
The teachers' contract expires June 30. Livingston says they went ahead and voted in favor of the contract last night because they didn't want to end up going months without one. She says many teachers are still disappointed with the proposed contract. Livingston says 374 teachers accepted the contract under protest, 93 accepted the contract and 15 voted no.
Teachers and students together near the street outside of the administration building prior to Tuesday night's school board meeting. Students are planning another protest early Wednesday morning near Hazelwood West.
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