Newsletter

The Alexandria School Board approved changes to their operating procedures on Thursday night (June 16), and updated rules on engagement with the media.

The operating procedures are a guide for Members’ behavior in office — and state that comments made to media by Board members will “likely be interpreted by the public as an official statement of the Board,” and that all statements (when Members are designated to speak on behalf of the board) must be sent to the Board Chair and Superintendent. The changes now state that School Board Members must now avoid directly communicating with ACPS staff “about Division business”, and clarified language to say that Board members will now receive all written responses to media made by the Alexandria City Public Schools communications team.

The Board unanimously approved School Board Member Kelly Carmichael Booz’s clarified language on the document. Booz said that the change eliminates confusion — that Board Members do not need to provide their colleagues with any written responses to the media.

“My proposal will be to amend that just so it’s really clear what that whole purpose of that was to just essentially say that written responses from ACPs communications to the media on behalf of the school division will also be distributed to school board members and the superintendent,” Booz said.

On June 7, the School Board conducted a closed door retreat at ACPS Central Office to discuss their operating procedures. The meeting was supposed to be open to the public. ACPS communications has not responded to multiple requests for comment to clarify the operating procedures or explain why the doors were locked.

Per the operating procedures, any questions from media related to personnel, student matters, school programs and exceptional/emergency events should be fielded by Board Chair Meagan Alderton and the ACPS communications team. School Board members are discouraged from discussing division-wide topics, but retain the right to talk to the media as individuals.

The Board also voted 5-4 against a proposal by Member Abdel Elnoubi to table the changes to the operating procedures until this fall, which he said would give the public time to review them.

Elnoubi says that there hasn’t been public discussion on the Board’s operating procedures since the Board retreats are not recorded.

“This is the operating procedures that govern our board, how we’re going to work together, how we interact with the community, everything,” Elnoubi said. “I feel it just serves everyone better if we wait, if we postpone this item… giving the community an opportunity to comment, to react for the sake of transparency, just to make sure that everything is being discussed here in a meeting that’s recorded.”

Board Chair Meagan Alderton, Vice Chair Jacinta Greene and Board Members Willie Bailey, Tammy Ignacio and Christopher Harris voted against Elnoubi’s proposal, and he and Board Members Michelle Rief, Ashley Simpson Baird and Booz voted for it.

Board Member Willie Bailey said that Board Members should have brought up their reservations during the retreats.

“I guess I’m a little mixed up or confused,” Bailey said. “I’m sure if there were some serious issues, we probably should have brought this forward during our last meeting, retreat, we had.”

At multiple Board retreats this year, outgoing Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. urged the newly elected Board to not engage with the media by reminding them of their own operating procedures. Hutchings announced his resignation on the last day of school, June 10, and did not attend the meeting. Hutchings is out of the office until June 21.

In March, Hutchings gave the Board a refresher on the operating procedures after Board Members Michelle Rief, Ashley Simpson-Baird, Elnoubi, Kelly Carmichael Booz and Chris Harris edited his proposal for the School Law Enforcement Partnership Advisory Committee. Hutchings said that such “behind the scenes” operations raised transparency issues by violating the Virginia Freedom Of Information Act. In that meeting, he also advised that Board Members not talk to the media without going through ACPS communications staff first.

After the fatal stabbing of an Alexandria City High School student on May 24, Hutchings advised School Board members in an email to not talk with the media. Hutchings wrote:

Board,

You may receive media inquiries regarding recent events. Please do not speak about the incident. I’ve spoken with our communications team to please refrain from using the term ‘no comment’.

However, please say ‘I will refer this media inquiry to our communications team’ then forward to Julia (Burgos with ACPS communications) and Kathy (Mimberg of ACPS communications). Thanks a million!

Sent from Dr. Hutchings’ iPhone

Alderton does not engage in social media, and her public comments are usually limited to official Board meetings and pre-screened monthly editorials to local newspapers. She recently spoke to The Washington Post and WJLA following Hutchings’ resignation announcement, but when pressed for comment by Fox 5 DC for a story about parents upset over a lack of communication regarding the student’s death, she provided no comment.

Most School Board Members haven’t made a single statement to the press since being sworn into office in January. The only exceptions are Elnoubi, Booz and Rief, who have spoken numerous times on the record with ALXnow.

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Mayor Justin Wilson says its time to take a step back and reassess Alexandria’s approach to student safety.

In a joint City Council meeting with the School Board on Monday night (June 13), Wilson said that the community needs to be educated on how the city and school system plan to make schools safer.

“I do think part of this conversation is to step back, because I don’t think there’s many communities around the country that invest the amount that we do in the very ways that we do in our kids, and clearly we still have kids slipping through the cracks in this institution. That’s sobering for us all.”

Wilson and Gaskins presented the Board with a draft memo that will start a “rigorous engagement” program to talk with youth and parents to “learn what is at the root of youth trauma and violence, and act.”

Wilson said that it’s been an interesting last several weeks since the fatal stabbing of Alexandria City High School Senior Luis Mejia Hernandez on May 24. He also said that there is no one single solution, but that a coordinated approach on improving students safety is about creating a public process and approach to solving the issue.

“I don’t mean to be negative on this, but I’m doubtful that in this effort we will determine some kind of magic thing that we have never thought of,” Wilson said. “I don’t think we’ll have anything like that. But I think it’ll be a conversation around how we provide services, scale, scope, how we target things, and where the need is, and I hope that as we have that conversation, we’ll learn more about the effectiveness of what we do today, rather than unnecessarily (try) dramatically new things.”

Council will discuss the memo at its meeting tonight (June 14).

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., who announced his resignation last Friday, did not attend the meeting, and is out of the office until June 21.

Board Chair Meagan Alderton said that the Board needs to improve its efforts to inform to community on ACPS activities.

“I agree,” Alderton said. “I do think we need to do a better job as a Board of educating the community about what actually happens in our schools, because I think that could also shift the conversation. People are making guesses all the time. It becomes counterproductive to what we’re actually trying to do. I second that 100%. I think that there’s an educational component to all of this, so that people just know what’s happening.”

Gaskins said that the memo does not specifically outline City departments for certain projects, since it is the duty of the city and its multiple departments to work collaboratively. She also wants there to be a student summit at some point in the near future to discuss coping with the pandemic and violence-related traumas.

“I think it really is a starting point and call to action to give space for us to listen to our young people, hear what they have to say, be able to evaluate what we’re doing, identify the things that we’re not doing and then put in place a plan that we are holding ourselves accountable to,” Gaskins said at the meeting. “I think this is really an opportunity to think about: How do we activate multiple departments? How do we activate and normalize every resource we have available to ensure the health and safety of our young people?”

School Board Member Abdel Elnoubi said he would do everything to help Council in the effort.

“Politicians and and leaders are looked at as good ones when they can articulate and speak, but we really need some time for people how much we should be listening as well,” Elnoubi said. “Thank you so much for doing this. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.”

Former Sheriff Dana Lawhorne watched the meeting from home.

“I’m glad that our City Council and School Board had a robust discussion tonight about the safety and wellbeing of our youth,” Lawhorne said. “I’m encouraged by the plan put forward by Councilwoman Gaskins and Mayor Wilson. We all need to do our part to support it.”

According to a school safety report released in March, 18 ACPS students were arrested in the first two quarters of this school year, in addition to 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons. The weapons seized include a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray. Students also filmed dozens of fights and posted them on social media.

At tonight’s meeting, Council will also consider designating former School Board Member Chris Lewis as its designee to the proposed 16-person School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group. That group will make a recommendation this fall to the interim-Superintendent (or new Superintendent) on the future role of school resource officers at Alexandria City High School and Francis C. Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools.

Separately, Council will also consider passing a gun violence prevention resolution, which encourages the school system to “review school curriculum, safety protocols, and professional development” related to gun safety and suicide prevention, as well as the scheduling of School Board work sessions before the start of the 2022-2023 school year to review those measures.

According to the memo:

In the short-term the Alexandria Police Department will continue its work to investigate recent acts of violence and provide appropriate security interventions to make future acts of violence less likely. To sustainably support the resiliency of our youth and prevent violence, we need to listen as much as we talk. We must engage a diverse range of stakeholders to listen to the experiences of our young people and center their voices, learn what is at the root of youth trauma and violence, and act. With this rigorous engagement, we can design and refine the systems and reforms required to:

  • Address youth trauma and mental health
  • Coordinate across sectors to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities
  • Develop sustainable strategies to align services and existing initiatives
  • Identify metrics and transparent processes to hold ourselves accountable
  • Target investments at identified gaps
  • Prioritize equity
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Updated at 3 p.m. There was sadness, relief, and also great happiness at Alexandria City High School’s graduation on Saturday (June 4)

Nearly 800 ACHS seniors walked the stage to receive their diplomas for the first in-person, indoor graduation in three years. The event was held at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.

In a touching moment, Guillermo Romero, the uncle of senior Luis Mejia Hernandez — the teen who was killed on May 24 — accepted his diploma to a standing ovation.

This year’s class is the first to graduate since Alexandria City High School changed its name from T.C. Williams High School.

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Updated at 3 p.m. on June 6: A family member of Luis Mejia Hernandez walked the stage and received a standing ovation from the students, staff and families in attendance at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.

Guillermo Romero took took the diploma for his nephew, kissed it and raised it to the sky.

Hernandez was fatally stabbed in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center on May 24.

Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., said that Hernandez’s life was tragically cut short on by a senseless act of violence.

“We were looking forward to seeing Luis cross the stage today,” Hutchings said.

Hernandez was recognized by ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas as a hard worker.

“I want to take a moment to ask everyone to hold Luis Hernandez in their thoughts — a Titan who should be here with us today,” Balas told students. “To the Hernandez family, please know that you are forever a part of the Titan family. We are with you now and we always will be. We will hold you in our hearts during this challenging time, and we thank you for entrusting your son to us for his education.”

More than 800 ACHS seniors walked the stage. This is the first graduating class of Alexandria City High School since it changed its name from T.C. Williams High School. It was also the first indoor, in-person graduation for the school in three years.

Balas said that students in this generation are taking their mental health seriously, and that the past few years have been full of traumatic events.

“These past few years have not been normal or usual in any way,” Balas said. “I hope you can look back and remember that you were there for each other, lifting each other up, as you made your way into the world.”

The story and caption incorrectly said that the person who received the diploma was Hernandez’s father. It was a family member.

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Alexandria City High School seniors will celebrate their graduation in-person this Saturday (June 4) at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.

Due to the pandemic, last year’s graduation was held outdoors in Chinquapin Park — right next door to ACHS. In 2020, the ceremony was completely virtual. The graduation has otherwise been held at GMU.

This year’s class is the first to graduate since Alexandria City High School changed its name from T.C. Williams High School. Seniors are allowed seven ticketed guests at the event.

The event begins at 9:15 a.m., and speakers will include ACPS Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., ACHS Executive Principal Peter M. Balas and students.

The last full day of school for all other ACPS students is Friday, June 10.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Updated at 3:30 p.m. — A 16-year-old Alexandria City High School student has been arrested in connection to last week’s fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez, Alexandria Police tweeted.

The juvenile, who was not named, was arrested more than a week after the May 24 incident, and has been charged with murder. He was arrested sometime Wednesday morning (June 1) and is being held at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.

The full statement is below:

The Alexandria Police Department has made an arrest in connection to a stabbing incident, that occurred on May 24, 2022.

A 16-year-old juvenile male, a City of Alexandria resident, was arrested and charged with murder. The juvenile is currently being held in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.

The decedent Luis Hernandez, 18, was a City of Alexandria resident.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Hernandez was stabbed during a brawl between 30-to-50 students on Tuesday afternoon (May 24). Police have not disclosed what prompted the fight.

Friends of the victim say that police did not do enough to prevent Hernandez’s death, and police are not conducting an investigation to their response of the incident.

Alexandria City Public Schools went to asynchronous learning after the incident, and will continue with hybrid learning for the remainder of the week.

After the police released information on the incident, Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. sent out the following message:

Dear ACPS Staff and Families,

We want to share with you an update provided today by the Alexandria Police Department (APD) about the loss of Alexandria City High School (ACHS) student Luis Mejía Hernández. We have been in close contact with the APD and we appreciate your patience and understanding in communicating during an active police investigation, which we understand remains ongoing. Please see the June 1, 2022 APD press release regarding this case.

We want to again assure you that new security measures have been implemented and remain in place at ACHS and we have shared multiple communications with ACHS students and families, including the latest information from Executive Principal Peter Balas on logistics for this week for the Class of 2022 as well as students in grades 9-11.

Just a reminder that the schedule this week has changed with a modified return for ACHS students so we can focus on social, emotional and academic learning to help fulfill critical in-person graduation requirements, provide students with the social-emotional supports needed, and afford students with an opportunity for socialization with their peers. Also, the modified return permits students who prefer classroom time with teachers in person to complete their asynchronous assignments at ACHS.

On behalf of the whole Titan community, I would like to again express our condolences and support for the family of Luis Mejía Hernández. Our team will continue to support our students, staff and families.

Sincerely,

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.

Superintendent

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In the wake of last week’s fatal stabbing of Alexandria City High School student Luis Mejia Hernandez, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. has advised School Board members to not talk with the media.

No arrests have yet been made after the May 24 incident, which resulted from an afternoon brawl with 30-to-50 Alexandria City High School students in the McDonald’s parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center.

Hutchings wrote the Board the following note:

Board,

You may receive media inquiries regarding recent events. Please do not speak about the incident. I’ve spoken with our communications team to please refrain from using the term ‘no comment’.

However, please say ‘I will refer this media inquiry to our communications team’ then forward to Julia (Burgos with ACPS communications) and Kathy (Mimberg of ACPS communications). Thanks a million!

Sent from Dr. Hutchings’ iPhone

Many School Board Members and City leaders tweeted about Hernandez’s murder, including Mayor Justin Wilson who wants to implement immediate solutions.

Wilson said that he talks to the media “all day long,” and that elected officials report to the voters and are accountable to them.

“I appreciate that each of the seven members of Council offer diverse perspectives on the issues facing our community,” Wilson told ALXnow. “I would hope that the media would reflect that in coverage, based on conversations with each member.”

The incident occurred on the same day as the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which gained national attention and placed responding officials under intense media scrutiny.

School Board Member Abdel Elnoubi was the only Board member to respond to ALXnow’s request for comment.

“My position hasn’t changed on this,” Elnoubi told ALXnow. “I understand that Dr. Hutchings may be worried if we say something, it may be attributed to the division. We don’t work for the division though, we oversee it and we work for the people of Alexandria, we represent The people. As elected officials, we are free to choose how, where and what to communicate with the community, which gets to hold us accountable. In times like these, the community needs to hear from its leaders and policymakers.”

School safety and transparency have been key issues within ACPS under Hutchings, This is the second instance this year that Hutchings has asked the Board to not talk to the press — both times due to controversial subjects.

In March, the school system was under scrutiny after right-wing outlet National Review broke a story accusing ACPS of covering up a suspected sexual assault case. Hutchings then told Board members to pass on all media questions to ACPS communications — as he said Board members need to be careful out of concern for the school division.

In the meantime, ACPS is also mapping out its future with school resource officers with the high school’s four campuses and the city’s two middle schools.

In April, Hutchings scolded the Board for their edits of a staff report on his plan to create a School Law Enforcement Advisory Group, which will make recommendations for SROs in schools to Hutchings by this fall.

Hutchings emailed Board Members that there were legal issues with their making edits outside of a Board meeting, and that the edits were “extremely problematic,” “inappropriate,” and “disrespectful.”

At the time, Elnoubi responded to Hutching’s directive by telling ALXnow that he will not be a rubber stamp for Hutchings and the school system, and that he is accountable to his constituents.

School resource officers were briefly defunded by City Council last summer, and the first few months of the school year were punctuated by violent events, including two robberies, three drug offenses, a bomb threat and 13 pulled fire alarms. There are no SROs at Alexandria City High School’s King Street campus since both officers were placed on leave after a “serious complaint” from a former student alleging “sexually inappropriate conversations” while she attended ACHS.

ACPS has wrestled with an increase in violent crime incidents this school year. According to a school safety report released in March, 18 ACPS students were arrested in the first two quarters of this school year, in addition to 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons. The weapons seized include a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray.

Earlier this year, Hutchings co-authored the book “The Anti-Racist Counternarrative Public Education Needs Now: Six steps for escaping the trap of attacks on ‘critical race theory’.” In the book, which Hutchings will not discuss with media, Hutchings wrote that school systems should avoid being racist by abolishing policing practices.

Police Chief Don Hayes says that police are needed in schools.

“I think they’re needed now,” Hayes told ALXnow. “My hope would be one day we won’t be needed, that we won’t have to go to the schools, and that will be great. I think that’s what they’re working towards, as far as putting this community advisory group together, and figuring out what can they do better to deal with all the safety issues that they might be having in the schools. We’re willing to help them with that so that one day we don’t have to have SROs in the schools, and they can be taken out of the schools and be back out in the neighborhoods, and we can really continue to do our community policing part.”

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Alexandria City High School (ACHS) will have a modified schedule this week as the school’s community reels from the killing of a student last week at a nearby shopping center.

Principal Peter Balas said in a message to the community that the school will have virtual asynchronous learning and SOL exams. ACHS staff will be in classrooms providing virtual instruction and will be available to proctor exams and be available to any student in need of social-emotional support or socialization.

The changes come after Luis Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed outside the Bradlee Shopping Center McDonalds’ during a large brawl. No arrests have been made in connection to the incident.

“With all of this weighing on us, as well as continuing to monitor the ongoing investigation with the Alexandria Police Department (APD), I have made some decisions in collaboration with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. and ACPS leadership regarding the week of May 31, 2022,” Balas said.

Some students and seniors will be required to attend school in-person:

  • Seniors who need to complete graduation requirements.
  • Seniors who must participate in graduation rehearsal (June 3).
  • Students who must fulfill SOL or other required testing.
  • Students in ACHS city-wide specialized instructional program.

In a separate release, Balas also informed the community of new security measures that will be in place for the rest of the school year. Those include:

  • Additional Alexandria Police Department (APD) Detail Officer support will be deployed to the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses.
  • Additional security officers will be deployed to the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses for interior and exterior supervision.
  • Use of select entry/access points at King Street and Minnie Howard campuses will be restricted.
  • Additional staff coverage will be in place for monitoring entry/exit doors at the King Street and Minnie Howard campuses.

Student IDs will be required to access ACHS campuses starting today (Tuesday), including students arriving by bus. In an effort to reduce hallway traffic volume, classes will be transitioned via school-wide announcements. The lunch sessions are also changed to halve the number of students at lunch at any given time at the King Street campus.

For the rest of the school year, athletic competitions will also be taking place at away fields or non-ACHS fields within the city of Alexandria.

“Finally, we are working in collaboration with the APD, City of Alexandria leadership and representatives from the Bradlee Shopping Center on additional measures that will be considered,” Balas wrote.

The full release regarding the new school schedule from Balas is available below:

Read More

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(Updated 2:30 p.m.) Friends of Luis Mejia Hernandez say he didn’t have to die.

More than a dozen of the Alexandria City High School senior’s friends paid tribute to him on Thursday night (May 26) with a candlelight vigil at the spot in the Bradlee Center parking lot where he was fatally stabbed on Tuesday afternoon. Many of them witnessed the fight, and say that police didn’t do enough to prevent the death.

“Police were literally walking right behind everyone before people started throwing punches,” said one student, who produced videos and photos of the incident on his phone. “They literally let everything happen.”

The Latino students said that they did not trust the police, and had not yet shared the information with them. One video showed a steadily escalating scene with police officers walking around groups of students along King Street — before the incident occurred.

No police sirens were used before and immediately after the stabbing, and police struggled to break up the fight, according to video obtained by ALXnow. There were about 30-50 Alexandria City High School students involved and no arrests have been made in connection to the incident.

“The police was here before everything started,” another witness said. “They didn’t do anything. They didn’t shoot a gun, they didn’t do anything.”

Police say that they responded appropriately, and are not at fault in their response. Police are also not currently investigating their response to the incident.

At the vigil, some of the students smoked weed and drank tequila — with police in cruisers observing but not engaging from a short distance away. Many of Hernandez’s friends burst into tears while talking about him. Some even left small plastic cups with tequila on the ground next to prayer candles and flowers.

The students did not respond when asked about what prompted the brawl.

“Something is always happening here (in the shopping center),” another friend of Hernandez said. “There was three police cars here. Why didn’t they call more officers? The police station is right there. This was unfair, this could have been prevented, no problem. It didn’t even have to happen.”

A GoFundMe for Hernandez has raised more than $20,000. His friends say that next week his father will take his body home to El Salvador, where his mother lives.

“He was a senior, like me,” one girl said. “He was going to graduate. He so looking forward to getting out of school this summer.”

Some of the kids involved were getting milkshakes at the Beeliner Diner in the shopping center. Owner Noelie Rickey said she provided police with security footage from the day of the incident, and that teenagers drive away her customers during lunch and after school hours.

“Our business has been down all week,” Rickey told ALXnow. “Obviously people are hesitant to come to the shopping center right now… And customers have learned to stay away when the kids are out and not in school.”

Alexandria City High School sent students home after the incident and transitioned to virtual learning for the rest of the week.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. says that police are providing additional high-visibility patrols in school zones, and that there will be support team members available for students when school reopens on Tuesday after Memorial Day.

Hernandez’s death marks the city’s third homicide of 2022 after a murder in the Foxchase neighborhood and a teenager killed in an alleged attempted carjacking in Potomac Yard earlier this month.

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Police at the Bradlee Shopping Center where an 18-year old was stabbed and killed on May 24, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Alexandria Police were at the scene of Tuesday’s brawl prior to the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez, according to video of the incident obtained by ALXnow.

Hernandez was stabbed during a brawl with 30-50 teenagers in the McDonald’s parking lot. A video of the incident obtained by ALXnow showed police cruisers at the scene and an officer attending to Hernandez immediately after he was stabbed.

Mayor Justin Wilson says it will take a citywide effort to protect kids.

Wilson said that he has been in constant contact with Alexandria City Public Schools leadership and the police. On social media, he wrote that he first checked to see that his son was at the school and not at the shopping center.

“Parents and members of our community have used their voices to demand solutions, implemented immediately,” Wilson wrote. “That is also my reaction as a parent.”‘

Wilson said that those ideas include hiring more police officers, hiring more mental health counselors, more gang prevention, and security training around school facilities.

“It requires city, schools, non-profits and the community all rowing in the same direction,” Wilson told ALXnow.

A GoFundMe campaign has so far raised more than $12,000 for Hernandez’ family. No arrests have been made yet.

In-person school was canceled at ACHS on Wednesday — the day after the incident.

“A Titan was murdered,” Vice Mayor Amy Jackson told ALXnow. “There’s still a lot of video that has to be looked at by police.”

https://twitter.com/Gabriel3lias/status/1529421663019974656?fbclid=IwAR3nl6Rxrm__JHW9Z8xkdihSnWQ9RwM9JXyMqEYGwlCHExrGQrSMrqbxNgU

Alexandria School Board Member Kelly Carmichael Booz tweeted that she was gutted by the news of the day, and that there will be “more to say and more actions to take to fight for the safety of our children, and likely a lot of unhelpful finger-pointing.”

“Tonight I put my kids to bed and gave them a hug and a kiss and sang our songs,” Booz tweeted. “Tonight a family in Alexandria cannot put their son to bed and 18 families in Texas have empty beds with kids the same age as my own. I’m gutted. I grieve for the families.”

City Councilman Canek Aguirre tweeted that “Action is needed. Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

The Alexandria Council of PTAs sent out the following note:

Our hearts break for the loss of the Alexandria City High School student today and we stand with their family, all students, teachers, staff, and community members who need support today.
We also hold all of the community members in Uvalde, Texas in our hearts and minds and recognize the impact that event has on our own community members.
If you or anyone you know needs mental health support during these times, a reminder that ACPS school counselors are available and you can also call your school for help. Additionally, this resource from the National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/…/mental…/addressing-grief
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