A dozen students at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy stood and raised their hands during a speech by Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday, apparently in protest of the police shooting in Ferguson, Mo.
Nixon was at Lincoln in Kansas City to recognize its status as a National Blue Ribbon School, one of the nation’s top awards for academic excellence.
The students walked out of the speech shortly after it began. It wasn’t clear if their walkout was planned or if school officials told them to leave the auditorium.
The protest wasn’t disruptive, but the district disciplined the students, spokeswoman Eileen Houston-Stewart said.
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“They were talked to, and their parents were called,” she said.
None of the students was suspended.
Asked about the incident later, Nixon said he understood the students’ concerns.
“That energy of those young folks, that’s what’s pushing everyone else to get some changes, and to make progress,” he said. “They are going to be — and need to be — a force so that we can be a better state and better society after this.”
The Democratic governor defended the legality of an executive order issued this week declaring a state of emergency in and around Ferguson.
He declined to say whether he would travel to the area after the grand jury’s decision in the shooting case but said he is already involved in planning for whatever happens.
“You bet I’m going to be involved in civilian responsibilities,” he said. “To make sure we’re trying to keep folks calm and to provide them an avenue to speak.”
Nixon used his visit to emphasize the state’s efforts to hold down tuition increases at four-year public colleges and universities.
A recent study, he said, showed tuition at those schools rose more slowly in Missouri than in any other state.
The Star’s Joe Robertson contributed to this report.