Schools near where a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager will get advance notice when the grand jury in the case makes a decision on whether to indict the officer on a criminal offense.
The school officials will get three hours notice if the decision is reached during the school week and 24 hours notice if the decision is made on a weekend, according to a letter posted on Hazelwood School District’s website. The time will allow schools to safely transport students home and secure campuses, said Grayling Tobias, the district’s superintendent.
“The transportation department has reviewed bus routes and will re-route buses for students who are displaced,” Tobias said in the letter announcing the advance notice. “Our security officers and law enforcement partners will provide additional security at our school campuses. Outsiders will be removed if they appear on our campuses.”
The St. Louis area is anxiously awaiting word on whether the grand jury will indict white officer Darren Wilson, 28, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, an African American. Police, city officials, schools, businesses and protesters have been meeting daily in an effort to avert repetition of the chaos that immediately followed the Aug. 9 shooting, when protesters clashed, sometimes violently, with police.
School superintendents who worried that their students might get caught in unrest asked St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch for the advance notice. They also asked McCulloch to announce the grand jury’s finding after 5 p.m. on a weekday or on a weekend, when most kids are at home.
“The District has responded to many emails, phone calls and social media inquiries about our emergency preparedness plans,” Tobias said in the letter. “We will utilize our inclement weather procedures with autodial phone messages, emergency phone lines, email blasts, the District Facebook and Twitter pages and local media outlets.”
School officials have met regularly with law enforcement representatives. And recently, the NAACP met with area school districts, law enforcement, businesses, church leaders and representatives from McCulloch’s office to discuss emergency preparedness, Tobias said.
The grand jury convened Aug. 20 to hear evidence in the case. At issue is how Brown died. Police say Brown struggled with Wilson inside his police car, then reached for Wilson’s weapon. Brown’s family and some witnesses say Wilson killed Brown as he raised his hands in surrender.
SOURCE: USA Today – Yamiche Alcindor