'Enough is Enough' hopes to spark change at KCKPS

Enough is Enough campaign
Posted at 6:40 AM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 07:40:48-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Students are now seeing classmates virtually rather than in person.

For F.L. Schlagle High School senior, Jailyn Polk, there are some classmates she will never see again.

"It's an unexplainable feeling," Polk said.

Last year, 21 students in the Kansas City, Kansas, school district died. Some lost their lives due to overdoses and suicide, and 11 died due to gun violence.

"There's no reason these rates should be that bad," Polk said. "I should not have to hear about my peers being killed. It's unacceptable."

Leanna Richardson, a KCKPS high school science teacher, said it's painful to no longer be with students she saw grow up.

"One of the things that is so hurtful is to see one of my kids I had in elementary school lose their life to something senseless," Richardson said.

It's a staggering number the district is shedding light on.

"This is a Wyandotte County issue, it's not just happening in small pockets," KCKPS Student Services Director, Lisa Garcia-Stewart said. "It impacts the entire community."

Law enforcement is also aware of the issue.

"We want to be more proactive. Whatever we can do to assist our community, to assist our students, our schools, to stop this and take the lead on this and say we're done, enough is enough," KCKPD Capt. Brittanie Pruitt said. "We're tired of losing our kids to violence. We're tired of losing our kids to drugs and overdoses as well. So it's important for us to say, look, this year, 2021, is a new start. And let's see what we can do as a community to stop this violence."

The KCK School board declared "Enough is Enough" and is asking the community to take a pledge for change.

"Any death is a death too many of our youth, of our black and brown males, particularly because that's the number of deaths that have happened the last year," Garcia-Stewart said. "We share the grief, the loss and we too agree that this is one too many deaths that's happened in the last year and that we continue to make this pledge. It's not a one and done. It's not an event. We continue to have this conversation."

With blue ribbons wrapped around several trees across the district, district leaders say it's a reminder of the commitment to the pledge.

Polk is speaking up and joined the student advisory board for the initiative hoping for a new outcome.

"I'm 17 years old. I've been hearing about this since I was 15, and 14," Polk said. "I've been doing this. It's a problem. We have to change it. If we're gone, who's going to be our doctors? Who's going to be our lawyers?"

On Thursday evening, KCKPS and KCKPD will host an Enough is Enough virtual community forum from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be open discussions and resources available for students, staff and the community.

To register for this free event, which is offered in both English and Spanish, go online.