St. Louis Public Schools host public discussion on gun violence

ST. LOUIS – Dozens of students at St. Louis Public Schools went back to school this semester with heavy hearts. Their summer break ended in several child homicides of their family members, friends, and peers.

The St. Louis Public School Board of Education called for a special work session at Vashon High School on Thursday to give the community the opportunity to come together to offer ideas on how to heal and help children witnessing or living in what has been a violent climate.

Each person who signed up to speak had three minutes to address the board and the audience on issues deeply rooted in the community.

“It’s powerful. We have to come together as people from any background about how we will deal with public safety,” said St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

A summer of high-volume gun violence led to the deaths of multiple students of St. Louis Public Schools. The violence left the seats that would’ve been there’s empty, and it added a layer of trauma for all affected.

This was a chance to open the floor for solutions and partnerships to address the problems.

“I think it weighs heavy on everyone anytime you have students to lose their lives or children who are in this. It weighs heavy on all of our hearts, so hopefully, we can all come together and look for some ways to improve the safety in this community,” said Dorothy Rodhe-Collins, president of the St. Louis Board of Education.

At the meeting, parents, educators, and city leaders touched on a lack of resources, after-school programs, and understanding of the culture.

“The school is the appropriate way to get into the schools to see the system,” Gardner said. “We have to address the drama. We have to address the lack of resources.”

Some solutions offered were non-profit partnerships to deal with trauma, implementing a curriculum to teach conflict resolution and de-escalation, and hosting continuous opportunities to meet.

“That’s a start. That’s a start. We are starting from ground zero and we need to work our way up to the next level,” said Tina Hardin, a meeting attendee.

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