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High school lockdown linked to Bush protest
By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer
LA Daily News
VAN NUYS - Van Nuys High School was temporarily locked down Wednesday after students protested against the Bush administration as part of a national demonstration.
Van Nuys High School Principal Herman Clay directed students to remain on campus and at their desks for 1 1/2 hours after he said two dozen students disrupted classes during the protest.
Some students said administrators threatened them with expulsion if they left campus and that one student was thrown to the ground as campus police attempted to take their pictures.
The lockout occurred as 1,000 Los Angeles students - including about 15 or 20 from Van Nuys High School who were accompanied by an administrator - left class to join a midday rally hosted by The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime. The New York-based group had staged protests in 70 U.S. cities.
"We had a few other kids, I suppose in sympathy, they went around campus uttering anti-Bush statements," said Clay, who locked down the campus between 10:45 a.m. and the end of lunch. "They had refused a directive to go to class."
"This really wasn't a big deal. We only went through (the lockdown) because we didn't want to take the risk of more kids out of class."
The Los Angeles protest included a midday march down Wilshire Boulevard and a rally held outside the Federal Building.
At Reseda High School, administrators said about 15 to 20 students were poised to leave school until they spotted a Los Angeles police cruiser roll in with truant Reseda High students.
Fines for truancy range upward of $250.
Reseda High Principal Alfredo Tarin said students were free to leave as long as they signed out and were willing to pay the fine. He said a handful of students chose to attend the Mid-Wilshire rally.
Allan Nalvandyan, a freshman at Van Nuys High School, said he believed campus cops and administrators violated the free-speech rights of between 40 and 50 students by threatening to expel any student who joined their fellow students at the protest.
He said officials also followed would-be demonstrators around campus to videotape or photograph them, and that at least one scuffle occurred between a student and an administrator.
"It's really messed up," said Nalvandyan. "We weren't demonstrating - we were trying to leave for the rally."
The Los Angeles school police had no report of any injuries during the Van Nuys High School lockdown.
Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730