April 24, 2014

District concentrates on supporting family of fallen student

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com

School and public safety officials will review their procedures in response to a traffic accident outside of Madison Elementary that resulted in the death of a second grade student last week, but their immediate focus is on students and staff and the family of Kade Meyer.

“Right now, for us, it’s still about people who happen to be, in many cases, our close friend,” said Bill Miller, Gardner Edgerton School District Director of Operations and Facilities.

Seven-year-old Kade was trying to cross Madison Street after school last week when he was struck by an SUV. Funeral and visitation services were held earlier this week.

He is the son of Gardner Edgerton High School Vice Principal Mark Meyer. Mark is also a GEHS graduate and former GEHS teacher and former football coach. Miller once coached the ‘Blazer squad alongside Mark. For many in the district and the community, the Meyer family are close friends, Miller said.
District officials are concentrating their efforts on offering the Meyer family as much support as possible right now. Miller said eventually school officials will examine events that lead to the accident.

“Obviously we’re still in the process of dealing with the crisis,” Miller said. “We’re still addressing the needs of our staff and students.”

The final item in the school district’s crisis response procedure is reconvening with the crisis team to evaluate the response. The team will not convene with the purpose of reviewing elementary school release procedures. However they will likely be discussed, because it’s a natural response to a tragedy, Miller said.

“Part of our message to our staff right now is that this was a tragic accident, and we don’t want our staff, teachers, kids and families to feel like they did something wrong that caused this to occur,” Miller said.

Gardner Public Safety officers have yet to finish their reports on the accident. However, officials say Kade crossed between cars lined up on the street for after-school pick-up at the elementary school. He was not in the crosswalk.

James Moore, Gardner Public Safety Captain, said the public safety department employs four crossing guards during the school year. They are stationed on roads near Madison, Sunflower, Gardner and Moonlight Elementary Schools.

The crossing guards are there as a safety measure, Moore said. Their primary authority is over traffic – not the students.

“They’re there to stop traffic to let kids into the crosswalk,” he said. “But as far as him looking at a kid and saying, ‘you need to walk here,’ – he can suggest it, but he can’t grab a kid and force him to walk there.”

Chief Ken Francis told media last week that public safety, city engineers and the school district will likely meet to discuss the emergency response and things that lead to the accident.

“But that’s down the road,” Ilena Spalding, public information officer for Gardner Public Safety, said.

In the meantime, Miller said district students, staff, and the community are simply trying to heal from last week’s tragedy, and that may take awhile.

“We’re processing it,” he said. “…I can tell you now is a delicate time for our staff and students.”

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