KENOSHA -- A group of Kenosha cheerleaders wanted to honor their friend, Kaylie Juga, who was brutally murdered on May 9, but officials with the Kenosha Unified School District said, not so fast.
The cheerleaders wanted to honor Juga at the football game Friday, Sept. 20 at Bradford High School. KUSD officials sought legal advice, issuing a long statement Tuesday, Sept. 17 -- not saying more than that.
Those who knew and loved Juga didn't want to stay quiet.
"Everybody should be entitled to heal," said Theresa Munns, family friend. "Their daughter is gone, and she's never coming back."
Munns said the Juga family was looking forward to the game, with the cheerleaders planning a night in blue to honor Juga's life. Kaylie Juga was fatally shot on May 9 at her Kenosha home. The shooting wounded Juga's mother, Stephanie. Prosecutors said Martice Fuller, 16, Juga's ex-boyfriend, pulled the trigger. He has a jury trial scheduled for February 2020, and has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including first degree intentional homicide. Prosecutors said Fuller stalked Juga before allegedly killing her, and he was removed from school for threatening her.
"Those girls lost their friend, their teammate," said Danielle Tully. "They want to honor her. I don't see what the harm is in some girls doing a cheer with some pictures and a moment of silence."
Kaylie Juga, Juga family
"This game is Friday, and it meant to much to so many people," said Makayla Falcone, friend. "She touched so many people's lives, and it was supposed to finally be a thing where we all come together and like, remember her, and they took it all away."
KUSD released this statement Tuesday:
"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."
Kenosha Unified School District
It prompted Juga's friends to show up to the school board meeting Tuesday at Indian Trail High School.
"They wanted to dedicate the game to her because this is a tragedy, and they're a large part of our community," said Munns. "They're a military family that gives up their time and lives to fight for our freedom every day, and this is what they get in return."
Fewer than a dozen of Juga's friends showed up at the meeting Tuesday asking for more of an explanation as to why this memorial couldn't go on as planned. School board officials said they could not offer more at this meeting.