Supports planned following shooting death of teenager


By Jack Ritter, Maya Smith, and Maeslyn Hamlin

Lawrence High students will receive access to additional support tomorrow – including mental health resources and a bigger law enforcement presence — following the shooting death of a 14-year-old on Saturday.

The Lawrence Police Department says the teenager was shot Saturday afternoon and died later that night. Derrick Del Reed, a 17-year-old identified as a suspect by police, turned himself in Sunday morning.

The two teens were not current students at LHS, according to emails sent to faculty today but have connections to LHS. Reed was a junior at LHS last year, according to his yearbook photo. The victim, whose name hasn’t been publicly released but whose identity has been widely shared by students, was a freshman at LHS at the start of the year. A GoFundMe has been set up to raise money for funeral expenses.

Mark Preut, associate principal, said in an email interview Sunday evening that law enforcement isn’t aware of any threats to LHS but will still have an increased presence of officers.

“We will have additional SRO support, and patrol will be present in the parking lot,” Preut said. 

Along with additional police support, there will be on-campus mental health teams to aid students. This team will be available in Student Services, located under the learning stairs near the main entrance. Members of the mental health team will meet in the morning to discuss needs. 

There is always a balance in providing care without inducing trauma,” Preut said. “Our staff are alert to student needs and regularly reach out to the mental health team with concerns. Students can always go to Student Services. We have tried to make that a first stop so people in crisis don’t have to try to figure out where to go.”

In addition, Preut shared a document that provides some guidelines for teachers to interact with students.

“While it is important to give some space to listening, it is also important that we do not nurture the rumors that are swirling around or to add to the trauma that some students are experiencing,” Preut said.

Administrators and the mental health team are relying on relationships teachers have with students to help transition tomorrow, which will be the first day students return to school after spring break.

“Between our caring staff and talented mental health team, I hope each student feels like they have a trusted adult they can turn to,” he said. “Our efforts at relationship building are crucial in times like these.”