February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Following Shooting and Protests, Ferguson-Florissant School District Postpones First Day of School

Twitter caption: Protestors in Ferguson with their hands raised in the symbolic “Don’t shoot” manner. In light of the visible unrest and hostile exchanges between protestors and policemen in Ferguson, Missouri  following the August 9 shooting of  18-year-old  Michael Brown, the Ferguson-Florissant School District (FFSD) has announced the first day of school will be postponed from Thursday, August 14 to Monday, August 18. The rescheduling of the start of school  was “in response to concerns expressed by many about continuing unrest in our community,” according to the district’s website.

Ongoing protests after Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer have involved the use of tear gas by police and resulted in another non-fatal shooting. The shooting has brought to surface racial tensions in the mostly black suburb of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, which has a largely white police department made up of 53 officers, three of them non-whites, according to an August 13 article on Al Jazeera. (On August 11, the FBI opened a civil rights case file on the shooting.) At least 50 protestors have been arrested since August 9.

Watch a video of the protests and police tear gassing protestors outside of St. Louis on Vimeo courtesy of Antonio French, alderman of the 21st ward in St. Louis.:

On August 11, before the district announced its decision to postpone the first day of school, Lawrence W. Larrew, the acting superintendent of FFSD posted a letter on the district’s website stating the following concerning about the ongoing community unrest. The following is an excerpt:

“The safety of our students and staff, as always, is our top priority. As emotions remain high throughout the North County area, and access to some roads in Ferguson remains uncertain, we have rescheduled events scheduled for this week… We are also reviewing security at each of our schools to ensure safety as preparations are made by staff over the next three days to welcome students back to school, and as students and families return to our schools on Thursday morning.”

The letter went on to state the school will be offering grief counseling and other resources for the students upon their return to school. The school’s homepage also offered a link to crisis support centers and resources for the surrounding community.

UPDATE: Ferguson-Florissant School District has delayed the first day of school—August 18—”due to continuing unrest in some areas of Ferguson, and in the interest of the safety of students and families,” according to the district’s website. The site’s press release did not indicate when the first day of school would resumed, but PBS News Hour reported on August 18 that the district is canceling on a “day-to-day basis.” PBS also reported that in light of the more than 11,000 students affected by the delays and the students who rely on the free breakfast and lunch provided by the district during the school year, Ferguson residents have taken it upon themselves to provide these students-in-limbo “with lunch in the wake of the school closures,” according to Jana Shortt, director of communications for FFSD. 

See Ferguson-Florissant School District website below:


You also may be interested in:

Understanding Ferguson: Resources on Protest, Nonviolent Resistance, and Civil Rights

Carolyn Sun About Carolyn Sun

Carolyn Sun was a news editor at School Library Journal. Find her on Twitter @CarolynSSun.

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