More than 1,000 people could march in Santa Rosa Tuesday to protest last week's killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, who was holding an Airsoft-style gun deputies believed to be a real assault rifle. But any students who leave class to participate in the protest are taking their safety into their own hands, officials warn.
Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Socorro Shiels released a statement late Monday asking parents to encourage their children to stay in school.
She said the rallies and protests are not student-driven but are organized and promoted by adults from outside Santa Rosa.
"We understand the larger interest and significance of this tragedy and are concerned for the safety of our students at these events," Shiels said.
"We encourage students to stay in school and to use the services offered to help address this tragedy -- in a productive, safe, and student-centered manner," Shiels said.
Shiels said students who leave school do so at their own risk, and parents who want to allow their children to leave school must do so in writing beforehand and submit to the school's attendance office.
"Please consider attending such functions with your child so you can be assured of their physical and emotional safety and provide support as your student struggles to address this very sad event," Shiels said.
In the wake of the fatal shooting, the school district provided crisis intervention by psychologists and mental health experts, restorative justice circles and classroom discussions at school sites last week and will again this week, Shiels said.
A many as 1,000 people attended a viewing of Lopez at a Windsor funeral home Sunday, and a mass is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Resurrection Parish Church, 303 Stony Point Road in Santa Rosa.
An account, arranged by the Bellevue Elementary School, has been opened at the Exchange Bank for donations to the Lopez family. Donations may be taken or mailed to the Andy Lopez Memorial Fund, Bellevue School, 3223 Primrose Ave. Santa Rosa CA 95407. Checks should be made to the Andy Lopez Memorial Fund.
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