La Follette students walk out of class over potential removal of staff member

MADISON, Wis. — Dozens of students at La Follette High School walked out of class Wednesday afternoon to protest the potential removal of a staff member they call Coach Assad.

Assad played a major role in leading conversations about mental health and creating community spaces for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“We want to push a statement that even though we are students, our voices need to be heard and our statements need to be heard,” student Adora Yang said, “and there needs to be action towards their own statements and that broken promises shouldn’t be made.”

During the staff member’s time at La Follette, they led the establishment of an academic space called “The Crib,” a primary source of mental health advocacy at the school.

Students are concerned that emotional and academic support will be further diminished without the support of this staff member. Since the staff member’s removal, the hours that students can spend in The Crib have been limited to noon to 3 p.m., which students feel is inadequate.

School district officials plan to concerns raised by students in the coming weeks.

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Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds also attended the event.

“Today was a great conversation. There were some things that I think staff learn from and vice versa. (In) this conversation, there were things our students learned so and that’s exactly what we had hoped for. We’re very proud of this group of students for raising their voice and doing it in such a productive way,” he said.

LeMonds also issued a statement on the walkout:

“Although we cannot comment on Mr. Assad (as it is a personnel matter), honoring students’ perspectives is something we value at LaFollette High School. Leading up to today’s walkout, school and district administrators worked with students to ensure the activity was safe and provided the opportunity for student voices to be heard. We are proud of how responsible and safe our students were who participated in today’s event. Providing a safe space for our scholars to raise their voices on issues of importance also offers opportunity for our entire school family to learn and grow.”

LeMonds also noted that the concerns raised by students at the walkout were valuable and that additional support resources will be available.