NEW HAVEN \u2014 As students across the nation plan to walk out for 17 minutes Wednesday morning to protest what is seen as legislators\u2019 inability to act on gun violence, local school districts are preemptively controlling the event. The National School Walkout is a planned nationwide protest, during which students plan to leave their schools for 17 minutes \u2014 one minute for every person killed in a shooting massacre one month prior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida \u2014 at 10 a.m. in every time zone. Patrice McCarthy, deputy director and general counsel of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said whether students are allowed to walk out depends on the policy of local boards of education. \u201cSome boards of education by policy explicitly say a student walkout will result in disciplinary action, regardless of the reason,\u201d she said. \u201cOthers put it in the hands of the building principal.\u201d Although McCarthy said, depending on local policy, a walkout is \u201cnot an absolute violation,\u201d in a letter sent to every superintendent of schools and school board president, CABE and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents warned that the planned walkouts would be disruptive to students\u2019 education. \u201cWhile the challenges of planning an appropriate and effective response are significant, the underlying legal principles are clear: neither students nor staff have the right to engage in activities that disrupt the educational process, as the planned walkouts certainly would,\u201d the organizations wrote. Ahead of the planned walkout, American Civil Liberties Union updated its primer on students\u2019 First Amendment rights, informing students they do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they enter school, but schools are within their rights to discipline students for missing class. \u201c[W]hat they can\u2019t do is discipline you more harshly because of the political nature of or the message behind your action,\u201d the ACLU wrote. McCarthy said CABE and CAPSS are encouraging school officials to communicate with students and the community to collaborate on a protest. She said, depending on the interest level of the community in protesting, school officials are encouraged to host a \u201cwalk-in\u201d or alternative educational program. In Wallingford, Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo said the two high schools have six alternative programs within the school buildings for 17 minutes to prevent students from walking out, which would result in suspension as a possible punishment. One of these programs is 17 minutes of silence in the second period class, which is what the nationwide protest encourages students to do outside the school building. \u201cWe want our students in school where we can keep them safe while facilitating their participation in the educational program. Should a student walk out on this day, disciplinary consequences will be imposed in accordance with Board of Education policy,\u201d Menzo wrote in a letter to parents. The district is also offering high school students the chance to write letters, meditate, discuss the event in a group, study or register to vote for those 17 minutes. \u201cThe information outlined in this letter was based on a convening of over 50 students from the two high schools,\u201d Menzo wrote in an email. \u201cThey were mindful of the need to demonstrate compassion while also being safe. In addition, their ideas are slated to act as a framework for continued conversation on the topics they identified of mental health, school safety, and federal legislation.\u201d Dana Paredes, assistant principal at West Haven High School, said students approached the administration on how they wanted to observe Wednesday\u2019s walkout. \u201cIt\u2019s all student-led, it\u2019s what the students wanted to do,\u201d she said. At 10 a.m., the students will walk to the football field with a group of students in the center, and every minute for 17 minutes a name will be read of a victim in the Florida massacre and the speaker will chime a bell. \u201cWe\u2019re very supportive, and we really feel that the kids have gone about this the right way,\u201d Paredes said. \u201cIt\u2019s being done in a safe and organized manner; we asked for an increased police presence. We are supporting them because they\u2019ve done everything the right way.\u201d Hamlet Hernandez, superintendent of the Branford Public Schools, said he is proud of the students for being civically engaged, and the school will offer them 17 minutes to speak about gun violence, school security, gun control, mental health \u201cand maybe even broader topics.\u201d \u201cWe don\u2019t censor our kids,\u201d he said. He said he does not anticipate students walking off school grounds, \u201cand if that\u2019s what they choose to do, it\u2019s what they choose to do, and it will be handled accordingly.\u201d He said the students have been working with administration for more than two weeks on making the moment meaningful. \u201cI think it\u2019s a great event. There\u2019s a way to do it that is more powerful than other ways of doing it, and our kids have really taken the lead on this,\u201d he said. In a letter to parents, Madison Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice said the district would \u201chonor all individual students at the high school\u201d and participation in a program is not mandatory. In his statement, however, he avoided mentioning the walkout and whether there would be consequences. \u201cMarch 14 has been identified nationally as a day for students to make a statement,\u201d Scarice wrote. \u201cAgain, I have complete confidence that our students will represent our community well and make us all very proud of their efforts.\u201d New Haven Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Will Clark said the Elm City\u2019s schools have planned activities in lieu of condoning student walkouts. \u201cWe\u2019re confident in the collaborative fashion and, frankly the responsible fashion, in how the students and the staff have looked at this seriously,\u201d he said. If there were a \u201cviolation of school rules,\u201d he said, it would be \u201csomething the school has to consider.\u201d New Haven\u2019s schools, he said, place an emphasis on restorative practices . \u201cI think it\u2019s really been a collaborative effort, and the Police Department and security is involved as well to make sure we\u2019re supportive of students and faculty who want to express their voice, but in a safe and responsible way,\u201d he said. Tyler Felson and Brendan O\u2019Callahan, seniors at Guilford High School, said they met with school administration Monday to ensure the political nature of the school\u2019s planned event is not neutered. \u201cThe principal\u2019s job is to keep us safe,\u201d Felson said. \u201cHe knows we wouldn\u2019t do anything derogatory and be in good faith.\u201d Felson and O\u2019Callahan\u2019s concern is that \u201cthoughts and prayers are well and good, but they are not enough,\u201d he said. \u201cWe wanted to make sure any student that wants to speak their mind about this issue feels safe to do so,\u201d Felson said. \u201cThe administration is on our side, but they have to play devil\u2019s advocate for a lot of it and do their job. They don\u2019t want political fights breaking out.\u201d O\u2019Callahan said the issue is important for young people, even in the state of Connecticut. \u201cWe have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but bump stocks and ghost guns are still legal,\u201d he said. \u201cPeople have to be reminded it\u2019s an issue in Connecticut.\u201d Banning bump stocks and ghost guns \u2014 which both circumnavigate restrictions on semi-automatic weapons \u2014 is a priority for Democrats this legislative session. \u201cIn this movement we are completely against fueling hatred. The youth don\u2019t want to add to that, but what we do have is anger, and I think that\u2019s definitely called for at a time like this, and we\u2019re trying to use that anger as a motivator for change,\u201d Felson said. In a tweet Monday President Donald Trump said there is \u201cnot much political support (to put it mildly)\u201d for raising the age for the purchase of certain firearms from 18 to 21. He rejected the idea of making schools \u201cgun free zones,\u201d calling it an \u201copen invitation to enter\u201d and expressed that states should be allowed to decide whether \u201cexpert teachers\u201d conceal carry. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. criticized Trump\u2019s lack of \u201cpolitical courage\u201d in a tweet and said \u201ca groundswell of grassroots energy \u2014 led by students\u201d must move Congress to action. In a statement, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Trump was \u201cgrossly negligent and dangerously ill-informed.\u201d \u201cIn Connecticut, we serve as an example that it is possible to fortify our schools without turning them into fortresses,\u201d he said. McCarthy said walkouts in Connecticut are not unprecedented, and the \u201cschool environment is a unique environment.\u201d Although the conversation about gun violence has inflicted trauma on some students and being disciplined might exacerbate that trauma, she said educators must ensure education continues. \u201cSomething that is seriously disruptive of that process, they really have no choice but to impose discipline,\u201d she said.