Only on 10: Norfolk superintendent discusses tragedies impacting division

From left to right: Ladawn Durant, Skylar Alexander-Speller, Ke'Shawn Alexander and Caroline Hendrix.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Since the start of the year there have been at least four separate tragedies that are impacting Norfolk Public Schools.

The most recent case involves the death of a 19-year-old Lake Taylor High School graduating senior, Ke’Shawn Alexander.

Relatives say he was protecting his sister Tuesday night when he was killed by a man he knew.

Alexander’s principal told 10 On Your Side she is shocked and in disbelief.

“Words can’t express what we feel here today at Lake Taylor High School. To lose one of your own is very difficult,” said Principal Latesha Wade-Jenkins.

Principal Jenkins’ letter to students, parents  


Wade-Jenkins said Alexander was known for his big smile and being a gentleman.

Ke’Shawn Alexander.

 

“Ke’Shawn was always known for opening the door for staff members,” she said.

His tragic death is the third on this week for the division.

On Sunday, a Norview Middle School assistant principal was killed in a crash. Saturday, a 5-year-old P. B. Young Elementary School preschooler drowned in a hotel pool.

These most recent tragedies come on the heels of the murder of a teacher at Oceanair Elementary School. A death that WAVY recently learned through the court was a case of mistaken identity.

The losses are impacting the division superintendent.

“Their family members were our family members,” said Superintendent Melinda Boone during a tearful interview. “We mourn with them,” she said.

A letter from Dr. Melinda J. Boone, superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools

Only 10 On Your Side sat down with Boone just hours after official confirmation that the most recent death was that of a Norfolk public school student.

“These are those things that you don’t train for in any of your educational leadership programming, but they are the things that can rock an organization to its core,” Boone said.

She admits this has been a tough week. Boone said she is making sure everyone in the division has the support they need to handle the tragedies.

Grief counselors were at Lake Taylor High School on Wednesday.

Immediately after news of the tragedy impacting Oceanair Elementary, Boone met with the faculty and parents personally.

She also plans to visit Norview.

“That’s what we have to do. We all come together as a family to make sure that everyone is whole and then we figure out how do we do the appropriate outreach to the families,” Boone said.

She says she wants families who have lost loved ones to know the division mourns with them and they will not be forgotten.

“We feel that loss, and yes school continues to be open, activities will happen, events will go on, but their loved ones will be missed,” she said.

Boone said she has been receiving the support of her colleagues in the area as news of these tragedies spread.

An online account has been created to help with funeral costs for Ke’Shawn Alexander.