Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pupils Protest Restroom Policy

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pupils Protest Restroom Policy

Article excerpt

Dozens of Passaic High School students dressed entirely in black staged a walkout Monday morning to protest a restrictive bathroom policy enacted by the administration in response to the recent wave of bomb threats.

The students scoffed at the dress code uniform consisting of white shirts and tan pants and urged others to join the "blackout." Some of the students who staged a protest inside the school were sent to the auditorium for in-school suspensions. Another group outside the school building ignored Principal Francisco Velez's requests for them to go inside, and spent much of the day hanging out at the front entrance.

"Why go inside? We're only going to get suspended," said Vania Martinez, 18, a senior dressed head to toe in black.

The demonstration was the latest disruption in a school year that has been full of them. Like many other public schools in North Jersey and around the nation, Passaic High School has been the target of repeated bomb scares.

The administration's response has been to lock most of the bathrooms, which requires the high school's 3,000 students to sign out of class, summon a security guard to unlock an available restroom, and then sign back in.

"Instead of responding to the bomb threats by finding out whoever is responsible for them, they make everybody suffer," said Kyana Rodriguez, 16, a junior. "We have to sit there and deal with it."

The policy was enacted after a bomb scare on Feb. 26. Parents and students made an issue of the policy at the Feb. 29 school board meeting, but nothing has changed since then.

"They're not listening to us," Rodriguez said.

The protesters claim that only two bathrooms, one for boys and one for girls, are open in each of the three wings on the first floor, for a total of six. The administration disputed that claim on Monday. Six bathrooms are open, but they were located on multiple floors, said Keith Furlong, a spokesman for the school district. …

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