Schools fret over Ferguson grand jury announcement

Associated Press

St. Louis – — School officials concerned about students being waylaid by protests are asking the St. Louis County prosecutor to wait until classes are not in session to announce whether a white police officer will face charges for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

A grand jury is expected to decide by mid-November whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown. The shooting led to weeks of sometimes violent protests in and around the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson and spurred a national conversation about race and policing. Law enforcement officials are already bracing for potential fallout from the decision.

Last week, Riverview Gardens School District Superintendent Scott Spurgeon sent a letter signed by six other superintendents asking St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to announce the grand jury decision after 5 p.m. or on a weekend, preferably a Sunday, when there are typically no school activities or functions.

Riverview Gardens spokeswoman Melanie Powell-Robinson said there have been no threats against students but there is concern that protests could make it hard for them to get to or from school or for parents to pick them up because of traffic and road closures.

While most students from Ferguson attend the Ferguson-Florissant district, some attend Riverview Gardens.

The letter from Spurgeon is also signed by superintendents from the Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Jennings, Kirkwood, Mehlville and Normandy school districts, which together have about 20,000 students.

The start of the school year in Ferguson was delayed by more than a week in August because of concerns about student safety stemming from the protests.

A spokesman for McCulloch said Tuesday the superintendents’ concerns are being considered. His office has not provided a timetable for announcing the grand jury decision once it is reached.