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Des Moines Public Schools will host a 'Community Conversation' series following a fatal shooting last month

Clay Banks
DMPS will host its first community discussion at East High School on Thursday, April 28 at 5:30 p.m. Four other conversations will follow at other DMPS high schools.

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The first ‘Community Conversation’ will take place at the place of the shooting—East High School—on Thursday, April 28th.

Four other roundtable discussions will follow at other Des Moines high schools:

  • Lincoln High School – May 2nd
  • Roosevelt High School – May 3rd
  • Hoover High School – May 11th
  • North High School – May 12th

They’ll all start at 5:30 in the evening. Childcare and a light meal courtesy of United Way of Central Iowa will be provided to participants. DMPS encourages participants to go to the event location of their own school community.

"The shooting outside of East High School is a tragic example of the many ways our students and community are experiencing trauma," the press release announcing the events outlined. "Violence and trauma are both created by, and impact, the conditions in which we live. While these issues are complex and include investment and responses from multiple community partners and entities, Des Moines Public Schools can play a role in improving student safety and wellbeing."

Students, parents and community organizations are invited to share their ideas for healing as well as guide Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) to its next steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students. Childhood health and trauma research network Iowa ACEs 360 will lead the discussion and co-facilitate with community leaders. (Iowa ACEs 360 focuses on Adverse Childhood Experiences.)

All ideas will be analyzed and condensed into a report for the district and then shared publicly.

Recently hired interim superintendent Matt Smith said he wants all community members, including legislators, to be part of the solution with the district.

“Gun violence is not the problem of Des Moines Public Schools to solve alone," he said at a press conference last month. "We are absolutely a part of the solution. And we are asking all of our community members, all of our legislators, to be a part of the solution with us.”

Registration is required beforehand; the sign-up forms inquire about preferred spoken language.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines