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RICHFIELD, Minnesota, Feb. 1, 2022 – On behalf of the educators of Intermediate District 287, the scene of a shooting that left one student dead and another severely wounded Tuesday, the president of Education Minnesota-Intermediate District 287 Local 2209 released the following statement.
“Today, we experienced the needless waste of a young life,” said James Schmidtke, president of Education Minnesota-Intermediate District 287 Local 2209 and a teacher of students with autism. “How sad is it that a kid was working to get an education the only way they knew how, and then that life was taken away? It is so, so sad.”
“We feel for the students and families, and anyone affected by today’s tragedy,” said John Fishbaugher, vice president of Education Minnesota-Intermediate District 287 Local 2209, who was in the South Education Center when the shooting happened. “I am incredibly proud of, and impressed by, all District 287 staff who worked bravely and efficiently in extreme conditions and in the aftermath of an unthinkable tragedy to ensure that all students were safely transported home. I am also proud of our students who did remarkably well in an incredibly difficult situation.”
Schmidtke, who arrived at the South Education Center shortly after the shooting, praised ISD 287 educators for the work they did after the shooting while their building was in lockdown and then helping load students into buses waiting to take them to a nearby park where students’ families were waiting.
“It was a horrible, horrible situation, but I’m very proud of my colleagues and the students,” he said. “You could see the pain, the fear and the anxiety in people’s eyes, but they rallied together and did a fabulous job. It was amazing.”
Schmidtke noted the district serves students with significant disabilities and the highest needs for special education services. His students will need extensive mental and emotional support after Tuesday’s tragedy, which he said would be difficult given the current shortage of resources for special education.
“These kids are the forgotten kids, the kids that need the most help,” he said. “Educators shouldn’t have to fight for them, but we will. Doesn’t every parent want the absolute best education in a safe environment for their children?”
Schmidtke thanked the first responders from city, state and federal agencies that rushed to the scene. “They were absolutely phenomenal, truly professional,” he said. “They were well organized and did everything they could to make people feel safe and comfortable as possible in the situation.”
Schmidtke asked the news media to direct all questions about the investigation to the appropriate law enforcement agencies or district spokespeople.
Initial news reports indicate two students were shot about noon Tuesday outside the South Education Center, an alternative school in Intermediate District 287. One student died. The other was severely wounded. Officials have not released the names of the students. Investigators were still searching Tuesday evening for the person or persons responsible.
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.