Canton City Schools have gone into a sort of crisis mode to help students deal with the fallout of a fellow student’s shooting death.
Emotions “running high” within Canton City Schools after the shooting death of a McKinley High student resulted in more teens staying home Wednesday.
Altercations broke out Tuesday, school officials set a grief crisis team in place and McKinley Principal Deirdre K. Stokes-Davis encouraged parents of students having difficulty dealing with the boy’s death to keep their kids home.
The district sent an open letter to parents and guardians.
“The absences are a little bit higher right now, but in this letter we encouraged that these parents, if they thought their son or daughter was having any problems, should keep them out of school this week, if they’re having a difficult situation,” said Robyn Matulich, who handles communications for Canton City Schools. “If they feel that their child needs a little bit more attention, we encourage them to do so.”
Schools are asking staff members, students and parents to be extra vigilant and report anything or anyone they see who looks out of place.
“It’s just the whole situation,” she said, adding that the young man’s classmates are experiencing the loss.
Anthony L. Moore, 17, of the 1500 block of Gateway Boulevard SE, was driven to the BP gas station at 1200 Market Ave. N Sunday evening after he was shot in the head, Canton police have said.
The McKinley High School sophomore was declared dead Monday morning. The shooting occurred near Shorb Avenue and Ninth Street NW, about a half mile southwest of the BP station. No arrests have been made.
Police Chief Bruce Lawver said Wednesday that rumors stemming from the shooting have been rampant via Facebook and other social media. But investigators at this point have no direct link between the shooting and unrest within the school district.
Still, police presence at the schools has been increased.
“I think the school’s response has been very appropriate. Factual or not, whether there’s a threat to the school, we have to take it seriously and we are taking steps in that direction.”
SCHOOL, CLASSMATES REACT
Stokes-Davis’ letter says that a trauma team is available for staff and students who need assistance in dealing with the death.
“It would not be unusual for your child to behave and express themselves differently during the next few weeks. Such an incident can have a profound effect on students, even when they were not in the same class or grade as Anthony,” Stokes-Davis wrote. She encouraged parents to call the school regarding specific concerns, adding that a crisis team member will return calls.
Matulich said Wednesday that extra staff members were on hand to deal with any problems that crop up.
Page 2 of 2 - “Right now, with what has happened, there are emotions running high, and sometimes kids say something to somebody else. We’ve had nothing major, but staff is on hand to make sure there aren’t any fights,” she said.
She said while no fight occurred Tuesday at McKinley, two girls who became “very emotional” had to be separated. Their parents were called to take them home.
Daily student attendance at McKinley ranges between 1,500 and 1,600, Matulich said. She said she did not know how many were on hand Wednesday but attendance was down.
Canton City Schools Superintendent Chris Smith said the school has an “increased presence of how we’re utilizing our personnel and we’re working with the police department,” but he had no information about any fights at the schools or a reported decrease in attendance.
Amber Bigford, whose sons attend Timken High, said the school may have been calling cellphone numbers and emailing parents with computers, but they still haven’t done enough to alert parents.
She said she received no call, email or letter home from the school. Just a text message from one of her sons concerned about school safety. Her husband went to the school to pick up the boys.
“Had I known that this was going on, my children would not have been in school at all this week.”
FIGHTING AT SCHOOL
Police had been called at 11:35 a.m. Tuesday to Compton Learning Center, one of the city’s alternative schools at 401 14th St. SE, for a fight involving juveniles, said Capt. Dave Davis, who heads the police department’s detective bureau. Police reports said the victim was uncooperative and the school was talking to him.
No one was arrested, and the fight remained under investigation.
Davis did not yet know whether the fight was related to the shooting.
“After something like this (shooting), tensions run high and it’s hard to discern one incident from another without an in-depth investigation,” he said.
Smith said that parents, students and staff members were asked to stay vigilant and report anyone or anything that looked out of place,.
“We are working in partnership with Canton city police and, if there are things that come to our attention, we investigate those things and we work through those proper channels,” he said.
Davis asked anyone with information about the fight or the shooting to call detectives at the police department at 330-489-3144.