By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 25, 2018 at 8:01 AM

Students around the country have been planning walkouts in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

A 17-minute national walkout is planned for 10 a.m. on March 14.

The action was organized by Women's March Youth EMPOWER, the website of which says the group "is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

While some districts have expressed opposition to students taking part in such walkouts, MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver sent an email on Friday to MPS families supporting students’ rights to free speech.

Here is the full text of Driver’s message:

"The most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida is moving many people – including our young people – to voice their concerns about school shootings and school violence. Our students deserve to not only feel safe, but be safe.

"Students nationwide are planning three major events in the coming weeks to voice their concerns and to demand action. One of those efforts is on March 14, the one-month anniversary of the Florida shootings. Students are being asked to leave their classrooms and walk out of school for 17 minutes; one minute for each life lost at Stoneman Douglas High School.

"Our students have the constitutional right to free speech and peaceful assembly. We support student-led civic engagement efforts and actions, as long as they are done in a safe and respectful manner. I stand with our students.

"In the weeks to come, you will receive additional information about guidelines for students who wish to participate on March 14. We ask you to help us shape this effort by giving us your feedback. Please send your thoughts to"

The message echoed a similarly supportive message – at least for some students – sent out by Wauwatosa School District Superintendent Dr. Phil Ertl on Thursday.

"We are aware of events planned around the country and here in Wisconsin in response to the Florida shooting and the national conversation that has unfolded. While we believe time in the classroom is critically important, we also place a high value on affording our students the opportunity to share their voice on issues and engage in civic and social discussions.

"If secondary-aged students want to participate in such events, we support them. Each building administrator will work with students to accommodate student’s attendance of, or participation in, such events and will communicate with parents about what steps need to be taken to do so."

Ertl’s message did not say whether or not the district supports younger Tosa students participating in walkouts.

When walkouts were reported in the news last week, School District of Waukesha Superintendent Todd Gray suggested that students in that district would be punished if they participated.

Later, Gray backpeddled, telling WISN-TV that students would be allowed to walkout on March 14 if they had parental permission.

"If they want to participate in this event, and parents check them out of school, they'll be allowed to do that," Gray said.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.