Friday, December 15, 2017
Go to Red Lake shootings
Red Lake shootings
Troubled teen kills nine, and himself, in Red Lake
Recounting the horror of the shootings
Red Lake stunned by shootings, and by spotlight
Starting the long process of healing
Political leaders mourn Red Lake deaths
Band members in the Twin Cities grieve from a distance
Searching for reasons behind school shootings
A glimpse into the life of Jeff Weise
Shooting shows benefits, limits of school safety plans
Red Lake shooting stirs memories at Rocori High School
Audio
Photos
More from MPR

Sponsor

Red Lake High School to reopen Monday
Larger view
The Red Lake school board voted Wednesday to reopen all its schools Monday. High school students will return to some areas in the high school, site of the deadly shootings nearly three weeks ago. (MPR Photo/Tom Robertson)
The Red Lake school board voted Wednesday to bring students back to school on Monday. It will be three weeks since Jeff Weise, 16, killed five students, a teacher and a security guard at the high school. School officials say many kids are ready to get back to school, but others are too frightened to return.

Red Lake, Minn. — Parts of the high school are still under renovation, but other parts of the school can be used. Classes will resume Monday at Red Lake, but students will have a chance to go into the high school on Friday.

On Friday morning students, staff, parents and elders will gather for a community cleansing ceremony at the high school.

Next week, students will attend classes only in the morning. The focus will not be on learning, but on sharing and healing.

But some students won't be there when school resumes. Leonard Stately says many parents will keep their kids home.

"I've been in contact with parents, not only at the high school, but the middle school, even the elementary school students that said they're not going to send their children to school," says Stately.

Stately says his son will be among the many students who refuse to return to the high school.

"What are we going to do for them? Are they going to set up with me for my son, that don't want to step foot in there? Because he sees his friends laying all over the place up there. When he closes his eyes he says he still sees them laying on the floor up there," says Stately. School officials recognize many students are not ready to return to school now, and may not return the rest of this school year.

When (my son) closes his eyes, he says he still sees them laying on the floor up there.
- Parent Leonard Stately, whose son won't return to school

"We're going to be lucky if we see 50 percent of our students back by the end of the year," says Keith Lussier, who works in community relations at Red Lake High School. "That's what I keep reminding the staff they have to focus on. Those that don't show up will be a good indicator for us to alert our mental health people, so they can make home contacts for us."

The school board agreed arrangements will be made to provide educational alternatives for students who are not ready to return to school.

But school board member Jodie Beaulieu says she has a sense kids are more prepared than their parents for school to reopen.

"I think, and I really believe, as the students come in, the others will see and they'll gain strength from their peers. 'Hey, if he's doing it, I can too,'" says Beaulieu. "Sometimes we as adults tend to be more paranoid. You know, parents were there expressing their concerns, but the kids are kind of like saying I'm ready, I'm ready."

Beaulieu says parents and community leaders can influence how students deal with the return to school.

"They're looking at us for guidance. They always have. And if we're afraid, you can bet they're going to be afraid. But if we're strong, you can bet they'll feed off that strength," Beaulieu says.

Red Lake school officials have many issues still to work through. They will seek a waiver from the state to allow seniors to graduate on time.

More staff will need to be added to help students who choose to stay home. Federal education officials say there are grants and emergency programs available to fund more counselors.

They're also looking for a way to bring more parents into the schools to help make students feel safer.

High school principal Chris Dunshee says those things will be worked out. Right now, he just wants his kids back in school.

"We want them back, and we're looking forward to seeing them again. We all miss them tremendously," says Dunshee. "So come on back kids, and let's have a good finish to the year."

Dunshee says at the end of next week, high school students will have Friday off. That will give teachers and administrators a chance to talk about how things are going, and plan for a more normal school schedule the following week.

Sponsor