KENOSHA -- Upon further consideration, Superintendent Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis and Board President Dan Wade decided to reverse the decision regarding memorials for Kaylie Juga, a Kenosha Unified School District spokeswoman announced late Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 18.
Upcoming events will be allowed to occur as planned, the spokeswoman said.
A Change.org petition was created after KUSD officials said they "will not sanction any memorials or acknowledgements because it would be legally required to do so for all students involved in order to protect the District against possible legal claims."
A group of Kenosha cheerleaders wanted to honor their friend, Kaylie Juga, who was brutally murdered on May 9 at the football game Friday, Sept. 20 at Bradford High School -- planning a night in blue in her honor. KUSD officials sought legal advice, issuing a long statement Tuesday, Sept. 17 -- not saying more than that.
Those who knew and loved Juga didn't want to stay quiet.
"The school needs to continue to follow the lead of the students," said Kate Colbert. "Nobody should be neutral on the subject of murder, or on the subject of violence."
"Everybody should be entitled to heal," said Theresa Munns, family friend. "Their daughter is gone, and she's never coming back."
Munns said the Juga family was looking forward to the game, with the cheerleaders planning a night in blue to honor Juga's life. Kaylie Juga was fatally shot on May 9 at her Kenosha home. The shooting wounded Juga's mother, Stephanie. Prosecutors said Martice Fuller, 16, Juga's ex-boyfriend, pulled the trigger. He has a jury trial scheduled for February 2020, and has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including first degree intentional homicide. Prosecutors said Fuller stalked Juga before allegedly killing her, and he was removed from school for threatening her.
"It really rocked me to my core, as it did everyone," said Colbert, who lives in the neighborhood where the crime happened. "You don't have to know them to know that this shouldn't have happened."
"This game is Friday, and it meant to much to so many people," said Makayla Falcone, a friend who spoke out at Tuesday's school board meeting. "She touched so many people's lives, and it was supposed to finally be a thing where we all come together and like, remember her, and they took it all away."
KUSD released this statement Tuesday:
"The staff and students of Kenosha Unified School District, along with members of the Kenosha community, continue to grapple with the tragic shooting incident that occurred in our community last spring. In recent weeks and days, the District received requests from students, parents, and the general public, including representatives of both families, concerning the District’s position regarding memorializing or acknowledging the students involved. The District sought legal counsel with Lori M. Lubinsky, attorney with Axley Brynelson, LLP regarding these requests and has decided to follow the legal advice received."
"The District will not sanction any memorials or acknowledgements because it would be legally required to do so for all students involved in order to protect the District against possible legal claims. Instead, the District will remain neutral. While the District fully supports students and staff in moments of crisis, it cannot allow memorializing or acknowledging one student without allowing it for both."
"In addition, student-organized efforts will not be endorsed and/or supported by the District and/or its personnel. However, the District will not prevent students from memorializing or acknowledging those involved in their own ways, except when they are acting on behalf of or representing Bradford and/or the District (e.g. as an athlete, speaker, performer, etc.)."
"Many in the Kenosha community may not agree with this difficult decision, but the District asks that the public honor its decision as it works to take into consideration the well-being of all of its students - past, present and future."
"In closing, the District cares deeply for everyone involved, and our thoughts are with all of the families, friends and community members impacted by this event."
Neighbors put up pink lights after Juga was murdered, and on Friday, they said they would change the bulbs to blue in her honor.