Springfield police seeking charges after alleged assaults, racial incident at elementary school

Police chief: “We are concerned anytime something like this occurs with our children.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield police are “actively” seeking charges after a series of reported assaults that occurred during an alleged racial incident at Kenwood Elementary School earlier this month.

Springfield Police Division Chief Allison Elliott spoke at a press conference on Monday afternoon to update the public on the investigation.

“Anytime you have an assault or any sort of situation like this with young children, it’s concerning you as a police department,” Elliott said. “We are concerned anytime something like this occurs with our children.”

Elliott said “multiple” children were involved in the incident but did not provide specific numbers or estimates of children. The police division is working through details about the ages of the elementary school students involved and more.

“Our detectives worked diligently last week to speak with people involved and to try to figure out the details of the investigation,” she said on Monday.

Elliott said the police division is also aware of threatening calls made to the school in the days following the incident.

“We are working closely with administrators on that matter,” she said.

Officers were called to the school around 10 a.m. on Feb. 13 about an incident that happened Feb. 10 during recess on the playground, according to the police report.

The school principal told officers that a group of Black students gathered several white students on a spot of the playground “and forced them to state, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ against their will,” the report stated.

The principal said a few of the students who tried to avoid the situation were “chased down and escorted, dragged or carried” back to the spot on the playground, and one student was punched in the head by one of the suspects, according to the report.

The group of students also reportedly recorded the students who were forced to make the statement.

Springfield NAACP president Denise Williams said she wants to work with the school following this incident and has received multiple calls from parents outlining racial concerns at the elementary school.

The Springfield City School District confirmed it referred the investigation to law enforcement, adding that limited its ability “to share information with… families.”

“While privacy laws only allow the district to provide details about the discipline of a child to their parent or guardian, the Springfield City School District does not approve of and will not tolerate the reported behavior,” the district stated in a release.

The school district will issue “appropriate school discipline in accordance with board policy,” according to the release.

The school district statement said mental health support will be available to students and staff upon their return on Tuesday from a long weekend for students that included days off classes for staff development and the President’s Day holiday.

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