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After Shooting Death at a School, Superintendent Calls On Community to Address Violence

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A 15-year-old girl was shot and killed outside a Kansas City, Mo., high school Tuesday following an argument during her twin sister's basketball game.

An'janique Wright was a former student at the school, Central Academy of Excellence, her family told local media. Her death is the first documented in Education Week's school shooting tracker for 2019. 

An'janique Wright.JPGTargeted acts like the one that killed An'janique Wright are far more common than the rampage-style mass shootings that dominate school safety debates. Education Week documented 24 school shootings that resulted in deaths or injuries as a result of gunfire in 2018. Of those shootings, which all took place during the school day or during school activities, six occurred during sporting events.

Following an argument during the game, groups of students were asked to leave the school. When An'janique left the building, she was cornered and shot near the school's entrance, local station KSHB reports.

An'janique's twin sister Angelique told local station Fox 4 that she saw her sister die.

"We were just always together," Angelique said. "Slept together, I couldn't sleep without her. I had to have my arms around her. We used to argue about it all the time."

The event left a frustrated Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell calling for an end to violence and crime that weighs on students and families in the district. He said he got a call about the shooting moments after he had left the game with his 7-year-old child.

"Gun violence is not a KCPS problem," Bedell said. "Gun violence is a community illness that is impacting the ability of our public schools to improve and thrive."

He pointed to social-emotional learning, community partnerships, extracurriculars, and mentoring as part of the district's efforts to protect students from violence. But schools can't fix community problems on their own, he said.

"I've got a staff of teachers now at Central High School mourning, and another 400 to 500 students mourning. And it's just becoming too common," Bedell said. "How do you expect kids to come and learn under these kinds of conditions?"

He called for community organizations to come together to "teach kids how to solve problems without resorting to violence."

School Shootings Can Be Difficult to Define

As Education Week has written before, school shootings remain statisically rare. And there is no shared definition for what counts as a school shooting. Some members of the public might only count events that happen inside school buildings during the school day, and some might take a broader approach.

But such events are more likely to look like what happened in Kansas City Tuesday than the mass attack in which a former student killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla., a year ago.

Policymakers often start discussions about safety after large shootings. Despite the data showing smaller acts of school violence are far more common, those headline-grabbing attacks often drive debates. Witnesses speaking before President Donald Trump's federal school safety commission, for example, spoke of costly equipment like gas bombs that are designed to blind a mass shooter in a crowded hallway. Few mentioned events that happen on playgrounds or in parking lots. Many focused on the motivation of a mass killer rather than a targeted attack.

Photo: Go Fund Me.


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