Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jun 2007
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Page: A4
Copyright: 2007 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Matthew Barton, Leader-Post
Cited: Wawota Parkland School
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


The residents of Wawota, population 500, were surprised to see
protesters waving signs and shouting into a megaphone Tuesday.

"We can't believe this happened in small-town Wawota," Melanie Taylor,
a 17-year-old student at Wawota Parkland School, said Wednesday.

Taylor said she saw five men and two students standing outside the
school waving flags and signs. One of the flags resembled the Canadian
flag, but instead of a maple leaf, it had a cannabis leaf.

Student Kieran King is the focus of the activity in Wawota. He was
suspended from school for three days after disobeying the school's
lockdown order during a walkout protest.

King, his brother, members from the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party, a
member of the NDP and another person rallied outside the school in the
name of freedom of speech.

The 15-year-old student said marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or
tobacco. Principal Susan Wilson asked King to stop talking about
marijuana to students at school. King claimed it was a violation of
his right to free speech.

"(Students) don't need to be thinking about marijuana and thinking
it's OK. It's something you shouldn't do. I don't think the principal
is wrong at all," Taylor said.

The school division stood behind Wilson's decision to suspend

"Schools are not public places. They are institutions with
expectations of conduct," said Don Rempel, the director of education
for the South East Cornerstone School Division.

According to Rempel, principals may suspend a student up to a maximum
of 10 days. Suspensions of three days or less can't be appealed by
parents and students.

Reasons for suspension can include defiance, profanity, gross
misconduct and refusal to accept discipline.

"It was done within the parameters of the Education Act and school
division policy. Schools do not support or promote the use of drugs
and alcohol," said Rempel.

Students and parents supported Wilson.

"There's a time and a place to say those things and it's not all right
on school property. I feel Principal Wilson handled the situation to
the best of her ability," said Lisa Myers, the student representative
council president at Wawota Parkland School.

Dana Fowler's children attend the school. She said students were not
threatened by teachers with punishment for disobeying the lockdown.
Instead, the lockdown was for the protection and safety of the students.

"Susan Wilson is to be commended. It couldn't have been an easy
decision for her. I think she made the right choice," Fowler said.

King's suspension means he will miss his final exams because he's to
leave for China today. By missing his exams he will lose 30 per cent
of his final marks. His mother is trying to negotiate with the school
to have his final exams faxed to the Canadian embassy in Shanghai.

King is an honour student and has marks in the 80s and 90s. He would
still pass Grade 10 even with the severely reduced marks.

"I regret getting suspended but I think the walkout was the right
thing to do. It was about freedom of speech, not marijuana," King said.

Myers said it could have been done differently.

"He could have done things in a more tasteful manner. I feel it wasn't
very good for our school or community," Myers said.

King disagreed.

"It wouldn't have gotten the same attention or message out. Freedom of
speech was the main reason for the walkout," King said.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake