High school students across Florida got a taste of political activism as they advocated for safer conditions after the Parkland school shooting in February.
Many have continued their efforts in the time leading to the November midterm elections. But some in Pasco County are receiving a reminder that school comes first.
Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning cautioned high school principals late last week not to approve use of instructional time for political activity.
"Although I appreciate our students involving themselves in the political process, their involvement needs to occur after school hours and/or on the weekend," Browning wrote to the school leaders.
He sent his memo after receiving word from a community member active in the Democratic Party that at least one school's Young Republican Club sponsor asked teachers to excuse club members from classes so they could work on a phone bank for incumbent state Rep. Amber Mariano, a Trinity Republican.
Browning referred the principals to School Board policy on student clubs and activities not sponsored by the district, which states their events must not "materially and substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of instructional activities in the school."
He said the exception would be if parents sign their children out of school to participate.
One principal asked whether students would be permitted to volunteer during time they were not expected to be on campus, such as when taking a virtual or dual enrollment course.
Browning said he had been referring to the instructional time when students were to be at school.