Police pursuing charges for students in racial incident at Springfield elementary school

SPRINGFIELD — Some families in Springfield are concerned about sending their children to school after police said they are investigating “identified assaults” at Kenwood Elementary School.

“These are young children, elementary school children who are involved,” Springfield Police Chief Allison Elliot said during a press conference Monday.

One of them is Ryan Springer’s 12-year-old son.

“They basically told him to get down on his knees and say ‘BLM’ and if he didn’t that they was going to beat him up and all that,” Springer said.

Police were called to Kenwood Elementary on Feb. 13 about an incident that happened during recess the previous Friday, according to an incident report obtained through a News Center 7 public records request.

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As News Center 7 previously reported, police were informed by the school’s principal that “a group of Black students had gathered several white students on a specific spot of the playground and forced them to state ‘Black Lives Matter’ against their will.”

Students who tried to avoid the situation were “chased down and escorted, dragged, or carried to the playground,” the report alleges. The group of students also allegedly filmed the students who were forced to make the statement.

One student was punched in the head by one of the suspects, the police report states.

During Monday’s news conference, Elliot did not confirm these details but said “we are actively pursuing charges for the identifying assaults that occurred.”

“I’m not angry about my son saying Black Lives Matter, everybody’s life does matter. I’m more about the assault of it, of him being forced down on the ground,” Springer said.

That’s why Springer said he thinks there should be some discipline and the students who were the aggressors should know the severity of their actions.

“We need to figure out a way to make our community stronger and everybody love each other instead of having these kind of issues,” Springer said.

Springfield police confirmed it’s looking into threatning phone calls the school has recieved since the incident happened and said if any threats are concerning they would let the community know.

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Following Monday’s press conference, a spokesperson for Springfield City Schools released the following statement:

“The Springfield City School District publicly thanks the Springfield Police Division for their ongoing support and service as a community partner to our One Wildcat Family.

The events that took place at Kenwood Elementary, unfortunately, had to be referred to law enforcement officials, which limited the District’s ability to share information with our families.

While privacy laws only allow the District to provide details about the discipline of a child to their parent or guardian, the Springfield City School District does not approve of and will not tolerate the reported behavior. The Springfield Police Division is in the process of pursuing charges for involved students based upon the ongoing investigation and the District will issue appropriate school discipline in accordance with Board Policy.

The SCSD will continue to work for greater acceptance and WILL NOT give up on any student. The District will use this as a learning experience, embrace all students involved and become a stronger Wildcat Family for having been through this together.

Upon the return to school on Tuesday, mental health support will be available for students and staff.”

News Center 7 will continue following this story and update as new information becomes available.

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