Beverly Hills High Students Plan District-Wide Walkout To Protest Metro’s Subway Tunnel Beneath High School
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 6:32 pm
Updated Friday, October 5, 2018 – 12:00 pm
By Laura Coleman
To protest the imminent construction of a subway tunnel beneath Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills students are banding together for a district-wide walkout set for next Friday morning, Oct. 12.
The walkout, which is intended to bring national attention to the health and safety risks related to running a subway line through fields of abandoned oil wells, is set to take place at Will Rogers Memorial Park at 10:30 a.m. Students from all five Beverly Hills Unified School District schools will be bussed to and from the destination, where they will remain throughout the length of the walkout.
Until Thursday evening, the walkout was planned as an actual march, with students convening at the iconic Beverly Hills sign in Beverly Gardens Park and progressing to one of President Donald Trump’s Beverly Hills homes.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli said the route was changed in order to ensure student safety.
“We recognize the students’ free speech rights and acknowledge their passion,” she said. “However, our primary concern is the safety of all involved. We believe this plan will allow for free expression while also maintaining a secure environment. Our department routinely manages large-scale public events, and we will be following those standard procedures and protocols.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has planned its Purple Line Westside subway extension project to run beneath Beverly Hills’ only public high school, which requires tunneling through pockets of methane gas and scores of abandoned oil wells.
“This is not a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong. Students are walking out because we don’t want to be worried about our health rather than focusing on our education,” said Sean Toobi, this year’s student board member and one of the lead organizers of the walkout.
Following last week’s announcement during a student-led a Community Forum about Metro’s plan, Beverly Hills students continue to take the lead on this issue, although they are doing so with the full support of BHUSD administrators.
“Our students are the greatest example of ‘Power to the People’ – speaking up and fighting for their rights,” said Board of Education President Lisa Korbatov. “They expect that government should protect them and safeguard them from harm. Their message is crystal clear: ‘Metro and FTA, don’t put forever subway tunnels under our school and don’t stage at our fence line for seven years.’”
A spokesperson for the said district that permission slips would be required for all 3rd through 12th grade students who are interested in joining the walkout.