KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Public Schools held its first school board meeting Wednesday since the fatal stabbing of a student inside Northeast Middle School.

The meeting right after the death of Manuel Guzman, 14, was cancelled with the district saying it needed to concentrate on helping the Northeast Middle School community. Wednesday night district leaders explained how they’ve been helping students and staff heal since.

“In a lot of ways I still don’t have the words to talk about what happened but I understand in order for us to heal we have to begin to have more dialogue around our schools, our systems, our supports and resources,” KCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said.

Since a care team was deployed to Northeast Middle School the district has also been working on enhancements to keep all staff and students safe.

KCPS is now consulting with a firm on an audit of safety and security policies and procedures. The district is also consulting with specialists on the possibility of using advance technology to enhance safety. A review of emergency operation plans is underway. Finally it is partnering with KCPD for school resource officer support for middle school and high schools. 

“I can’t do this as a superintendent by myself. Neither can this board or administration faculty and staff. We have to have the whole community galvanized to say enough is enough. We have to have safe havens in this city,” Bedell said.

A KCPS Board of Directors statement during the meeting reinforced student safety is the district’s top priority. But district leaders say the pandemic has made that more difficult.

“Our students were socially isolated for almost two years. So them being able to reconnect and learn how to be in same space with others we are seeing a heightened level of conflict,” Dr. Lateshia Woodley said.

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