The grand jury decision is expected any day now in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. In anticipation of that announcement, Springfield school officials have issued instructions on how to handle students' reactions.
District 186 superintendent Jennifer Gill has directed teachers to avoid discussing the grand jury's decision with students, at least initially, although with Springfield being only 100 miles from the St. Louis area, it's logical to expect that many kids here will pay close attention to whether the white police officer who killed Michael Brown will face prosecution.
In an email sent to school administrators, Gill emphasized a need to "remain sensitive to all sides of the issue." She said students who need to discuss their feelings should be sent to school social workers or psychologists. Most Springfield schools have just one social worker, and school psychologists typically divide their time among several campuses.
Gill was not available for an interview, but in an email to WUIS, she said that teachers would be allowed to discuss the Ferguson decision "in the context of the core curriculum in the coming days after the decision is announced." She said her intention is for teachers to have time to learn about the topic and for families to have the opportunity to talk to their children.
Springfield school district is 39 percent African American.