Dozens of students from Baltimore City College high school walked out of the school building today and marched to Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters on North Avenue, where they demanded to speak to schools CEO Gregory Thornton about funding cuts and other issues related to education in Baltimore City.
The protesters, aligned with the group Baltimore Bloc, also linked their actions to recent protests of police killings in Ferguson, Missouri and New York, chanting, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot."
A source at the school said the students left during a break between classes and did not cause a disruption. The source added that administrators had gotten word from Dr. Thornton's office not to stop the protesters.
At 3:30 p.m., Thornton's office released the following statement about the protest:
"This morning, a group of approximately 60 people entered the Baltimore City Public Schools district office at 200 E. North Avenue, staging a protest for approximately 90 minutes. The group, which had not previously communicated with the district office, requested a meeting with CEO Gregory Thornton, who was in Annapolis attending a meeting of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland.
"Reached by phone, Dr. Thornton provided a statement that was read to the protesters, after which the group left the district office building.
"In his statement, Dr. Thornton said:
"I want to encourage student voice and participation in decision-making at all levels, but I have a responsibility to let our students who participated in the protest know there are better ways to work and partner with us to help create the types of schools they deserve.
"Active parental and community involvement is one of the core values of the Board of School Commissioners and the district's administration. We encourage constructive dialogue among students, parents, faculty, and district leadership. My ask of the students is not only that they work with my staff to schedule a forum to discuss their concerns, but also that they partner with us on a citywide listening tour, so that we may hear from a representative body of students across the city about their concerns – and begin laying the groundwork to identify and implement solutions."
There were reports that, after leaving schools headquarters, the students marched to I-83, and that one protestor was arrested and later released.