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Olathe superintendent on Olathe East shooting: 'There are so many heroes in this situation'

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Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 15:39:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Olathe School District superintendent Dr. Brent Yeager said Wednesday that he is grateful for the support of the community, both in Olathe and beyond in the wake of Friday's shooting at Olathe East High School.

"It was an onslaught of people who call, text, email to ask, 'What do you need?'" he recalled.

Yeager said many people jumped into action on their own, showing up to the school to offer support. There have been organized breakfasts and lunches for school staff over the past few days from the community.

He said the district has a solid network of counseling and support services, and that many are taking advantage of that.

"We are really proud that a lot of staff are taking us up on the opportunity to get counseling," Yeager said.

And those services won't go away.

"Two, three, four weeks from now we need to be prepared to help staff members ... who say, 'It's hitting me different this week,'" he added.

More than anything, Yeager is proud of how the staff has been putting students before themselves.

All of the training the staff has gone through for the kind of scenario that took place seemed to have worked, the superintendent observed.

"No loss of life is pretty amazing," Yeager said. "There are so many heroes in this situation."

The district will conduct its own investigation into the shooting and see what changes to safety and security they may need to make in the future.

Yeager credits both School Resource Officer Erik Clark and Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Dr. Kaleb Stoppel with extreme bravery but said they are not alone.

It appears to be a student who initially reported there may be a gun present and likely that action prevented the situation from being more serious than it already was.

"That really is our number one violence prevention tool," Yeager said. "We have brave students who do that all over the district every day... It's safe for you to do that. We're counting on our students to do that."

Both Clark and Stoppel were shot, and both are healing well. Stoppel tweeted Wednesday thanking the community for its support.

"I've been in contact with both of them," Yeager said. "They are both positive and are healing and working on getting better. It turned out as good as it possibly could have."

The superintendent couldn't comment on what, if any, red flags were noticed before the shooting, but said the district will be going through records and seeing what they can piece together.

The reported shooter, 18-year-old Jaylon D. Elmore, an Olathe East student from Overland Park, did have a past criminal record.

Yeager says that everyone has a right to free and appropriate education, so without a court order or another circumstance keeping a student from school, education is available for them.

"We have to take all students, that's our obligation," Yeager explained.

He emphasized that if students are going through something, all they have to do is ask for help and that will be provided.

"I am a dad," Yeager said. "I want my kids to be safe. I am proud of the work this district has done. Our schools are as safe as we can be. We live in a human world where people make human mistakes."

He explained that just leaving the house every day is a risk and that parents should not be worried that their students are at any higher risk for danger after Friday's incident.

"We will do everything in our power to keep our students and our staff and our community as safe as we can," the superintendent finished.