Education

Miami student’s petition is no Halloween trick. No school on Friday is the treat

A 17-year-old Ronald W. Reagan Doral Senior High junior wants Friday off to recover from Halloween trick-or-treating.

But instead of asking his parents, he’s appealing to a higher power: the Miami-Dade County School Board.

Nicolas Ayala started an online petition calling for no school on Nov. 1. It has racked up nearly 160,000 signatures since he started it last week.

“It’s not only for me but for everyone in high school, middle school, elementary school,” Ayala told the Miami Herald. “It’s for younger kids.“

His argument isn’t a bad one: There’s already a teacher planning day scheduled Monday, so why not move it to Friday?

“It wasn’t that I want to have [one] less day of school, just move the teacher planning day to Friday,” he said. “We won’t even lose school days or change anything like that.”

Ayala was inspired to start his petition by a friend in Nebraska who asked the same of his school. There are more than 2,000 petitions nationwide on Change.org calling for school districts to cancel school Friday. A petition in Broward County has 95,000 signatures. Another petitioning St. Lucie County, home to 40,000 students, surpassed Ayala’s petition with 163,000 signatures.

Nationwide, petitions like Ayala’s have racked up more than a million signatures. Half of Change.org’s new signers this week created an account for one of those Halloween-related petitions, according to a press release.

Ayala said he advertised his petition on his Instagram and Snapchat social media accounts. He says it’s not just students signing the petition, but parents too.

“Every second there would be a hundred new signatures, and in an hour there would be like 5,000 more, 10,00 more signatures,” he said. “I didn’t think it was gonna reach that much.”

Ayala’s plea isn’t getting much traction with the school district. The Miami-Dade County School Board approved the 2019-20 school calendar back in January with input from representatives from the school district, the United Teachers of Dade and the Parent Teacher Association/Parent Teacher Student Association.

“Changes to the calendar have to be approved by the Board,” wrote spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez Diego in an email. “In addition, we use teacher planning days for professional development. We have already scheduled activities surrounding that with our educators.”

The Broward County school district isn’t budging either, citing the same reasons.

Ayala said he wrote an email to Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s office asking for the day off. He says he hasn’t received a response.

Regardless, he says he’s not going to school Friday, anyway.

Colleen Wright returned to the Miami Herald in May 2018 to cover all things education, including Miami-Dade and Broward schools, colleges and universities. The Herald was her first internship before she left her hometown of South Miami to earn a journalism degree from the University of Florida. She previously covered education for the Tampa Bay Times.
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