KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One eighth grader is dead and another is charged in his killing.
Wednesday night, the Kansas City Public School Board and Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell were set to speak. However, their regularly scheduled school board meeting was canceled.
Parents in the district want to know more but the district is staying quiet.
The district said it is speaking with families, however the majority if any communication has been through emailed statements.
Some mothers who did not want to speak with FOX4 on camera say they don’t believe school should have been in session the day after a homicide on campus.
“Are we really protecting our babies?” one mother said outside Northeast Middle School.
Mid-day on Wednesday a representative for KCPS told FOX4 a lot of questions would be answered by the district and board at their meeting that evening. At 4 p.m. the board meeting was canceled and KCPS said Bedell would not be giving a statement.
At the Northeast Middle School campus a small memorial sat for 14-year-old Manuel Guzman who was killed following a stabbing inside the boy’s bathroom Tuesday morning.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
However, families still don’t know how a 14-year-old eighth-grader got a knife inside the school building. The district uses a metal detector on this campus and students use clear backpacks.
While the district remains silent, Lucas spoke out about the violence.
“I’ve been to that middle school before. I’ve walked through a metal detector getting in, so there’s a normal process on some of these things and I think in this situation there was a concern,” Lucas said.
The district has it’s own security team outside of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.
KCPD said they certify their security officers through their private officer licensing program. According to the district’s website, there is only one officer assigned between both Northeast High School and Middle School. Per their policy listed online that officer is not armed. There are also floating officers who respond to calls at a number of schools, but it is not clear if another officer was on campus when Manuel was murdered.
Our counselors and clinicians are in schools every day working with students on numerous support systems, positive behavior interventions and conflict resolution when needed. We continue to provide additional training, resources and support for our security officers, all through a trauma-informed lens. Today, that training helped our NEMS security officers work alongside our school staff to provide life-saving first-aid until paramedics could arrive.— Dr. Mark Bedell, Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent
The district did not respond when asked if that officer was in Northeast High School or Middle School during the time of the stabbing.
“We will go through a lot of study to make sure something like this can not happen again. Where you have the type of situation where a kid is fearing for their life at the school,” Lucas said.
The district sent several emails out to families, but parents say emails aren’t enough. Many were frustrated on the cancellation of the district’s board meeting.
“I’m not going to knock the security but I know one thing – it’s showing more and more. The gun violence. The stabbings. We’ve got to tighten up,” one mother told FOX4 outside the school’s campus.
The district said it canceled the meeting so it could focus on the well-being of Northeast students, staff, and families. However, when asked what they would be doing to focus on their well-being in place of the meeting the district did not respond.
The student accused in the deadly stabbing at Northeast Middle is in custody at the Juvenile Detention Center. State law requires that a mandatory certification hearing be held to determine whether the teen should be tried as an adult or as a juvenile.
The hearing will be public, but the date has not yet been set. An attorney has not been set for the teen.
The boy is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and unlawful use of a weapon in the boy’s death.
“How did a kid get it in this situation? What type of knife did he use? Was it from home? Were the parents around and cognizant of what’s happening, and then of course, for the ready and easy access for firearms in our community,” Lucas said.
Despite the cancelation of the meeting, Mayor Lucas says he believes Bedell will handle the situation well.
“I believe the superintendent will do important work. I’m speaking with him soon. The principal for the school to make sure that we provide our support really on conflict resolution for our young people,” Lucas said.
While the district hasn’t come forward with a plan to tackle conflict resolution, Mayor Lucas hopes it’s something they do. With violence on the rise in KC over the past few days he believes helping kids learn these skills is the best first step.
“We can truly prevent what’s happening. Let’s work on real ways of prevention both mental health, both access to weapons and others – and certainly in conflict resolution for all ages in Kansas City,” Lucas said.
When FOX4 asked a representative from the district, or anyone with the district, to make an on-camera statement they declined and said, “it’s just where we are right now.”
The family of Manuel Guzman is focusing on laying their son to rest. If you are able to help this family in any way they set up a Gofundme to assist with the costs.
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