A Wisconsin school district says it will not allow a high school cheerleading team to honor their slain teammate at an upcoming football game.
15-year-old Kaylie Juga was shot and killed in her own home in May. Kaylie's mother was also shot and is still recovering from her injuries. Prosecutors claim Kaylie's ex-boyfriend, 16-year-old Martice Fuller, pulled the trigger.
Kaylie's teammates on the Bradford High School cheer team planned to honor her at halftime of a high school football team. They also planned to wear blue T-shirts — Kaylie's favorite color — during the event.
But the students were told by the Kenosha Unified School District that the remembrance would not be allowed.
"They can't hold up a picture of a girl that was murdered that went to that school and was a cheerleader. That is sickening to me," Jenna Tranberg, a friend of Kaylie's, said.
Tranberg made the comments at a school board meeting for the district's budget. Board Members could not respond because of open meetings laws and advice from legal counsel.
Earlier Tuesday, the district released a statement saying anyone not associated with the school was free to honor Kaylie, but the cheerleaders and others would not be allowed.
"The District will not sanction any memorials or acknowledgments because it would be legally required to do so for all students involved in order to protect the District against possible legal claims," the statement read. "Instead, the District will remain neutral. While the District fully supports students and staff in moments of crisis, it cannot allow memorializing or acknowledging one student without allowing it for both."
Friends attending the meeting were disappointed in the district's decision.
"She touched so many people's lives and this was finally going to be a thing where we all come together and remember her, and they took it away," Makayla Falcone, a friend of Kaylie's, said.
"The staff and students of Kenosha Unified School District, along with members of the Kenosha community, continue to grapple with the tragic shooting incident that occurred in our community last spring. In recent weeks and days, the District received requests from students, parents, and the general public, including representatives of both families, concerning the District's position regarding memorializing or acknowledging the students involved. The District sought legal counsel with Lori M. Lubinsky, attorney with Axley Brynelson, LLP regarding these requests and has decided to follow the legal advice received.
The District will not sanction any memorials or acknowledgements because it would be legally required to do so for all students involved in order to protect the District against possible legal claims. Instead, the District will remain neutral. While the District fully supports students and staff in moments of crisis, it cannot allow memorializing or acknowledging one student without allowing it for both.
In addition, student-organized efforts will not be endorsed and/or supported by the District and/or its personnel. However, the District will not prevent students from memorializing or acknowledging those involved in their own ways, except when they are acting on behalf of or representing Bradford and/or the District (e.g. as an athlete, speaker, performer, etc.).
Many in the Kenosha community may not agree with this difficult decision, but the District asks that the public honor its decision as it works to take into consideration the well-being of all of its students - past, present and future.
In closing, the District cares deeply for everyone involved, and our thoughts are with all of the families, friends and community members impacted by this event."
This story was originally published by Tom Durian on TMJ4 in Milwaukee.