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Superintendent Statement on Community Violence

April 21, 2021 -- Speaking on behalf of the entire Columbus City Schools organization, we are in mourning today. I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families of two of our CCS students, Ma'Khia Bryant and Tre Von Dickson, who were killed on Tuesday. My heart is broken, their families’ hearts are broken, and our community's hearts are broken at the reality of these two promising young lives being taken away.

Just as we were all processing the news of a guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, we were reminded of the violence that is plaguing our own community. This violence is affecting the neighborhoods that our students and families call home, causing even more trauma and anxiety for our children.

Systemic racism and individual bias, both explicit and implicit, perpetuate the continued violence against Black and Brown lives. This is an issue we see on the national stage but also within our Columbus neighborhoods. As the leader of the state’s largest urban school district, I am committed to being part of the solution for a better tomorrow, a solution that will provide a better and safer future for our students. 

Our dedicated CCS Care Teams will be available to provide social emotional support for our students and staff who may be affected by these tragedies in our school community. With the pandemic and social unrest over the past year, our students have endured more than we could have ever thought possible. It is important that they know we are here to support them and provide safe spaces, guidance, and trusted adults. 

News about the death of a friend or loved one can have a powerful effect on students, particularly those close to the victims. We know that students may sometimes seem unfazed by the news of an unexpected death, or they may not know how to process their feelings without guidance. Our school staff and support teams are committed to helping students understand and manage their feelings. I also encourage our families to talk with their children and discuss any feelings or reactions they may have to the news of a friend or classmate who has died.

As we continue to feel the collective pain of these losses and ongoing challenges, we must continue to be there for our young people. Together we will endure. Together we will persevere. Together we will stand strong as one Columbus City Schools community.