✅ Eastern Regional High School students will hold a pro-Palestinian walkout

✅ It is a school-sanctioned event for students only

✅ Two county commissioners are calling for its cancellation

UPDATE: Officials say high school walkout has been canceled

VOORHEES — Two Camden County Commissioners admonished the superintendent of the Eastern Camden County School District for allowing a pro-Palestinian walkout during school hours on Friday and called for its cancellation.

The walkout is scheduled for Friday during the school's Lunch B on the football field, according to a handbill headlined "We are having a school approved walkout."

"Join us for standing up for basic human rights," the handbill says.

The advertisement includes the message that "ZERO hate will be tolerated. Failure to comply with said rules will result in disciplinary action."

Youssef Bahnasi, one of the event's organizers, told 6 ABC Action News there is also a dress code.

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Flyer promoting pro-Palestinian rally at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees
Flyer promoting pro-Palestinian rally at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees (listener submitted)

Walkout jeopardizes school funding?

In a letter to Superintendent Robert S. Cloutier, Jeffrey Nash and Melinda Kane called the event an “intentional effort to create a hostile and isolating environment” for Jewish students, most of whom they say support Israel in their war with Hamas.

“The planned ‘Pro-Palestinian’ walkout is fueled by anti-Israeli rhetoric which is unacceptable for your school to endorse. To do so during the holy days of Passover makes your decision even more intolerable,” the Democrats say in the letter.

The major Jewish holiday of Passover began Monday and continues through Tuesday.

Kane and Nash say that a walkout was held on Oct. 10, three days after the Hamas attack on Israel in “memory of all innocent lives lost.” They also say that the walkout could be seen as a failure to uphold the district's responsibilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires consideration of the IHRA Definition in identifying antisemitism.

"As you are no doubt aware, a Title VI action could jeopardize funding for Eastern High School," Kane and Nash say in the letter.

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Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees
Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees (Eastern Camden County Regional School District)

The walkout is for students only

Complicating matters was a message on Facebook  inviting "all community members" to the event, according to Deputy Mayor Jason Ravitz.

"Whomever did this with the rally has now tried to turn it into an event which the community is invited to which Eastern HS previously said was not going to be allowed," Ravitz, a Democrat, said on Facebook. "This is going to now cause Voorhees Township to commit resources from public safety to make sure the walkout remains peaceful. This is going to cost taxpayer dollars."

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Aerial view of Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees
Aerial view of Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees (Eastern Camden County Regional School District)

Police ready to protect students

Voorhees police Capt. Carmen Del Palazzo told New Jersey 101.5 that his department is prepared for whatever happens on Friday.

"We're going to have extra officers working to basically make sure there's no breach of the peace and maintain security out there. That's the goal. We have to provide the security for the students," Del Palazzo said.

If the crowd grows and others try attend the department has options including closing the roads around the school, according to Del Palazzo. Parking along the road is already not allowed.

"We're just hoping that people be respectful and that they listen to the police and there's no issues. and the kids can get back in back to school and learning, Del Palazzo said.

Cloutier on Wednesday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information about the walkout.

Students from Berlin Borough, Gibbsboro and Voorhees Township attend the high school. The school had an enrollment of 1,933 as of the 2022-23 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

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