That is the assessment of Kenosha Unified District School Board President Dan Wade as the district reversed its decision to prohibit Bradford cheerleaders from honoring their murdered teammate Kaylie Juga.
“We are very happy, extremely pleased, it came out this way,” Wade said. “It is important to happen for her family, the district, the whole city.”
A moment of silence and dedicated, halftime cheer are now planned at Friday’s Bradford football game in remembrance of former Red Devil cheerleader Kaylie Juga, who was shot and killed inside her family’s home on May 9.
Martice Fuller, a former quarterback on the school’s football team, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in connection with Juga’s death and the shooting of her mother, Stephanie Juga.
Tribute was barred
On Tuesday Kenosha Unified said it would “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.”
That prohibition came after Unified had already approved of the tributes. Between the approval and the denial, it had sought legal counsel regarding the issue, causing the district to issue sanctions against the tribute.
Public outrage online and elsewhere ensued.
Addressing the board
Several students and supporters of the cheerleaders confronted the School Board about the original decision at a meeting Tuesday night — a meeting specifically called to address the district’s budget.
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The chain of events has been emotional for all concerned, including those representing the district, Wade said.
“When those girls got up and spoke at the general meeting it broke my heart,” Wade said.
But, at the time, the district felt it’s hands were tied, he said. He reiterated that it was a hard decision. “It was one that nobody was pleased with. But when you get advice from attorneys and legal you follow it.”
‘Didn’t feel right’
As pressure mounted, Unified decided to visit the issue, Wade said. “After the general meeting the other night, a combination of things didn’t feel right,” he said.
On Wednesday the district reconvened with its legal counsel, reversing the ban.
“I can’t overstate the importance of what (Superintendent) Dr. Sue and the staff did to get this going,” Wade said. “When the initial (ban decision) came out I don’t think anyone — Dr. Sue or others at administrative level — were happy with it but it was from legal. We could have let (the decision) sit there but no one felt that was the right thing to do.”
On behalf of district administration and the school board, Wade contends that the reversal was not a case of “back-pedaling” but of righting a wrong. “It’s been my mantra for a long time, this was an issue of common sense and common sense did prevail.”
Wade said he was glad the memorial will move forward as planned. “This event is about Kaylie, her family and her friends. It is part of the healing process.”
The News was unable to reach the Juga family for comment for this story.
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