DMPS to host community discussions on school violence following shooting outside East High – Des Moines Register

DMPS to host community discussions on school violence following shooting outside East High – Des Moines Register

Des Moines Public Schools plans to hold a series of discussions to address school violence following a shooting outside East High School in March. 
The five public meetings will give the school community a chance to talk about concerns over violence in schools and communities, and how to begin healing from the shooting death of Jose Lopez-Perez, 15. While the district is hosting the events, outside community groups will guide the conversations. 
Lopez-Perez was shot and killed outside of the school March 7. Also injured were East High School students Kemery Ortega, 18, and Jessica Lopez, 16. Ten teenagers have been charged with Lopez-Perez’s death and the shooting. 
More:Four more teenagers charged with murder in shooting near East High
The meetings’ topics will be guided using information gleaned from earlier conversations with student following the shooting. 
East High School students focused their discussion on student health and well-being, school climate, culture, and safety, said Madeline Cano, the East community school coordinator. Students also said they wanted to see the school “bounce back from COVID.” 
The community school coordinators help support students and families within Des Moines schools and the community. 
Related:DMPS Jackson Elementary students are reaching for the stars with name change suggestion
“There’s a variety of opinions around school safety and what that means, but the common theme that students discussed was having a multifaceted approach,” Cano said. “So, not just relying on police or (school resource officers), but having a variety of different things (including) mental health support.”
The hope is a diverse group of community members will attend the meetings. 
“We want everyone to come together and we want to listen and really hear from students and families what they need as we heal moving forward,” said Allyson Vukovich, director of Community in Schools. “We want to be able to create those conditions within the school, but this is so much bigger than the school; this is really about our community coming together.”
Iowa ACEs 360, is a statewide advocacy and research organization that focuses on the prevention and mitigation of childhood trauma, will assist with the meetings and create a report based on the discussions’ findings.  
This is not the first time the district has met with students, families and community members to try and tackle issues within the district. Following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, the school district held a series of community talks. Feedback from those meetings helped lead to the removal of Des Moines Police officers, known as school resource officers, from schools last school year. 
Each meeting will start with a meal before the discussion. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., includes child care, and is open to the community. 
To register go to
Related:‘We find hope’: East High School students return to school following shooting
Find your meeting: 
Thursday: East High School, 815 E. 13th St., Des Moines. Families from Brubaker, Capitol View, Carver, Hiatt, Hoyt, Phillips, Pleasant Hill, River Woods, Stowe, and Willard schools are invited. 
May 2: Lincoln High School, 2600 SW Ninth St., Des Moines. Families from Brody, Howe, Jackson, Jefferson, Lovejoy, McCombs, Mckinley, Morris, Park Avenue, South Union, Studebaker, Weeks, and Wright are invited. 
May 3Roosevelt High School, 4419 Center St, Des Moines. Invited are families from Callanan, Cowles, Downtown School, Edmunds, Greenwood, Hanawalt, Hubbell, King, Merrill, Perkins, Walnut Street, and Windsor.
May 11Hoover High School, 4800 NW Aurora Ave., Des Moines. Families from Hillis, Meredith, Monroe, Moore, and Samuelson are invited. 
May 12: North High School, 501 Holcomb Ave, Des Moines. Families from Cattell, Findley, Garton, Goodrell, Harding, Madison, Moulton, and Oak Park are invited.
To register go to and click on the community conversations banner
Samantha Hernandez covers education for the Register. Reach her at (515) 851-0982 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @svhernandez or Facebook at


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