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Rufus King parents sound off on MPS over gun safety, lack of communication

By Adam Rife

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    MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — Monday night, dozens of Rufus King High School parents sounded off on MPS administrators for what they describe as a chronic lack of student safety and communication.

MPS scheduled the virtual townhall after five people were injured in a shooting outside the school the night of February 1, but parents say the issues go back a long way.

More than 100 parents dialed in to a meeting that was capped at an hour and a half. They say the district is not maintaining safety, shows no urgency, and does not share critical information in time.

Parent Sharlen Moore said, “I’m so disappointed in our leadership.”

Stephanie Dugan said, “As a supporter and advocate of Milwaukee Public Schools, I’m ashamed.”

And Yeni Salgado said, “I still feel there’s no sense of urgency coming from the school.”

About 20 parents spoke, taking out their frustrations on MPS administrators, angry their children do not feel safe at school.

Parent Julia Carria said, “It is one of many, many incidents that happened directly to our students.”

But parents say a lack of communication is a chronic problem, adding MPS did not communicate with them the night of the shooting, and they got better information from each other online.

Parent Jennifer Ohlendorf wrote in: “You are offering a defense, rather than an apology for this failure in communication.”

MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley explained how the district shares information, saying, “That information is pushed out to the school leader, school principal or assistant principal or teacher in charge, and those individuals will push that out to the school community.”

But that did not happen Tuesday night after the shooting. Dr. Posley said MPS had been waiting to gather all the facts.

While parents spoke for two minutes at a time, MPS administrators turned off their camera and did not answer the questions individually. They did occasionally address several themes at once. Dr. Posley said, “Ground communication is making sure communications is clear, and making sure that our children are safe at all given times.”

Dr. Posley said everything inside the building went as planned the night of the shooting. And when it comes to adjustments, the district is working to ensure everyone who enters the school will go through metal detectors, and that staff is well trained.

But not one of the parents who spoke was pleased with MPS or the communication process.

Marteen Dierden said, “My experience with King thus far with him has not been great at all. It’s been not even mediocre at this point.”

And Brooke Haley said, “Children and staff feel silenced and bullied, and I hope the culture of the school can be more inviting to both visitors and the students.”

One parent asked if the district would reconsider its terminated partnership with the Milwaukee Police Department. An administrator said she didn’t think the police should be the first place to turn.

The district plans to send out more through answers to Monday night’s questions sometime Tuesday.

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