Cardinal Nation Exclusive: Student Walkout – What has changed?

Mr. Crowe talks to Cardinal Nation in an exclusive interview about the issues brought up by students last fall



The Mentor High School student walkout in November 2021 raised awareness for a number of issues.

Juliana Gunvalsen, Editor

On November 8, 2021, more than one hundred Mentor High School students walked out of the building and on to the Center Street front lawn to speak out on issues they thought were going on in the building and the community. This event created a lot of debate in the building and the community as to its value and generated coverage on the evening news in Cleveland and in the local press:

‘We want change’: Mentor High School students host walkout to protest bullying, racism and more (WKYC)

Mentor Student Walkout (WEWS)

Mentor Student Walkout (News-Herald)

The student walkout was not an isolated incident, however, as students across the nation have been staging walkouts on a variety of issues over the course of the school year from COVID-19 to social issues. (See links below):

Students in California walk-out due to lax COVID protocols (Washington Post)

Students in Florida walk-out over so-called “Don’t Say Gay” Bill (CNN)

Since that day, Mentor Schools administration has not publicly commented further on the fallout from the student walkout at Mentor or what administrative efforts have transpired behind the scenes since. Cardinal Nation wanted an update on the aftermath of the event and so requested an interview with Principal Jason Crowe that took place on Wednesday, February 9th.

Mr. Crowe addressed several questions posed to him by Cardinal Nation in an in-person interview. The interview was conducted orally and his responses were recorded via reporter’s notes (at Mr. Crowe’s request). Therefore, the responses that follows are not direct quotes from Mr. Crowe, but rather paraphrased summaries that best represent his responses (which he has reviewed). We thank Mr. Crowe for his time discussing this issue. Here is what we learned: 

Cardinal Nation: During the walkout, you said that administration would be handling each case brought up that day and would work with students to see change. What was the process of addressing the specific concerns brought up that day like?

Mr. Crowe: Administration worked to identify various students who either spoke at the walk out or were heavily involved with its creation. These students then spoke to either Mr. Crowe or another principal at the school. These administrators then assessed whether a follow-up was needed, an investigation was needed, or if the students’ family needed to be informed.

Cardinal Nation: What concerns of students – if any – have caused a change in administrative approach?

Mr. Crowe: As administration sees it, the main concern among students was the need for support from the school. Mr. Crowe says that he hopes that going forward statements will not be a “one and done thing” and that students will be able to receive  desired support whether from counselors, MRT, or other resources. He also noted an emphasis on discipline within the school. He stated that the school was revising the current standards for disciplinary action against students and would be sharing his revised draft with certain students to review it before finalizing the changes. 

Cardinal Nation: Are there specific guidelines for discipline of students who were the root causes of the issues outlined at the protest? Are any likely to change, and if so how?

Mr. Crowe: Mentor Schools follows a discipline matrix, based on grade level, to help guide consequences. Mr. Crowe shared that administration is currently reviewing the guidelines for Mentor High School and hopes to find consequences to better match the severity of the aggressor’s infraction. The current disciplinary actions include a student conference, warning, lunch detention, office detention, ASR, Saturday School, an in-school restriction, suspension, and expulsion. 

Cardinal Nation: How has the staff been impacted by this process?

Mr. Crowe: Administration has since shared information with staff primarily surrounding those within the LGBTQ+ community, specifically on pronouns and their importance. Pride Club at Mentor High School was also asked to produce a video to share with staff. Furthermore, Crossroads will be holding two conferences with staff in the upcoming months to discuss caring for trauma informed students. 

Cardinal Nation: To what extent are issues such as these within the school’s control? Is there a point at which it becomes outside the work of the school? What can be done about those?

Mr. Crowe: Anything that occurs off campus is outside of the school’s jurisdiction for disciplinary action, but the school can still support students through these times. Mr. Crowe used an hypothetical example of off-campus sexual assault when discussing this issue. In this scenario, the school would call Child and Family Services and contact families and the police, but ultimately it is up to the family to press charges. 

Cardinal Nation: What measures have been put in place to prevent some of these concerns from arising again?

Mr. Crowe: As previously mentioned, many of the guidelines followed by the school have been revisited with a large focus on harassment specifically in relation to race, religion, national origin, and bigotry. Along with this, the student handbook has been updated and the school believes implementing a new, systematic approach to issues will provide more support for students from both counselors and administration. Administration is also dedicated to increasing student voice throughout the school and Mr. Crowe says they will do so by opening the principal’s advisory to all students based on an application process. He says that names will not be factored into the review process and will be based solely on the application.