Gov. Reynolds Criticized For Blaming Shooting On Iowa Schools

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the “real tragedy” behind the March 7 fatal shooting outside of East High School in Des Moines was the educational system letting those kids down.

Reynolds made those remarks to the media during a Wednesday press conference at the Des Moines International Airport. She was there to announce that $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds would be going toward Iowa’s commercial airports.

The governor’s “real tragedy” comment was in response to a question about whether she thinks Iowa needs stronger gun laws after the shooting, which left 15-year-old Jose Lopez-Perez dead and two other teens hospitalized.

The six suspects in the drive-by shooting were 14-18 years in age. Reynolds said she does not think the accused shooters obtained the guns legally and that Iowa has existing gun laws.

“While it happened outside of a school, that could have happened in a neighborhood, it could have happened anyway,” Reynolds said. “They were targeting the individual, so they had made a decision to go after him and that’s where they found him.

“But I think the tragedy is our system, our educational system is letting these kids down. They should have been in school,” she continued. “We should be figuring out resources to help them stay there and to help them get an education and a life where they can take care of themselves and their family.”

Reynolds’ comments were condemned by Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights) in a release.

“After 30 years in office, Kim Reynolds has lost her way,” she said. “Even in the face of a tragic school shooting, Governor Reynolds refuses to stop playing politics. Her recent comments placing blame on public schools for the high school shooting last week are reprehensible.

“Iowans know the real tragedy is that a 15-year-old has died and two remain in the hospital. We pray and mourn with the families affected and the community at East High.”

One of Reynolds’ legislative pushes this year is for student-first scholarships, a voucher-like program that would allow the use of public funds to fund private school education.

Reynolds’ comments were also condemned by Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic, who called the shooting “senseless” in a separate release.

“Governor Kim Reynolds chose to pass the buck onto Iowa educators in her first public comments about the tragic shooting,” he said. “She could have offered solutions. She could have offered support.

“Instead she passed the buck, blaming the hard-working education professionals of our state’s already underfunded schools,” Sinovic continued. “Reynolds has had a decade as Lt. Governor and Governor. During that time we’ve seen weakened gun laws, including lowering the age of handgun use to 14 and removing required permits for purchasing firearms.”

Reynolds never issued a formal press release following the March 7 shooting; however, she did provide some media outlets with a response when asked.

“I’m praying for the victims of this senseless act of violence,” she told the Des Moines Register. “I am heartbroken for the families and the pain felt across the entire community.”



by Ty Rushing


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4 Comments on "Gov. Reynolds Criticized For Blaming Shooting On Iowa Schools"

  • Culture of violence and gang activity in east DSM. Has been a sketchy part of town for quite some time. Can’t blame the school but not allowing a police officer to be stationed there was a huge mistake – blame that nonsense on the crazy “defund the police” movement”. James Carville was spot on calling out the left-wing extremists on the anti-police rhetoric.

  • I was surprised that Reynold’s openly admitted that the Iowa Education system is failing under her leadership and efforts to defund education. It’s hitting urban and rural schools the hardest. The suburban schools are the only ones growing and grabbing state resources due to pupil counts. She made the calculation that it was more important to show her base continued support for unlimted 2nd Amendment right expansions vs supporting parents and school children and our formerly top-ranked education system in Iowa.

  • I am certain there are some teens in East Des Moines who are managing to stay on track — working hard and doing well in school, emotionally grounded, no gang participation, planning for productive futures. Those kids and their families are the ones I’d like to hear from.

    What is enabling their success? What is making their success difficult? What kinds of publicly-funded programs are genuinely helpful? Which ones aren’t? How do laws and police and racism fit in? What roles do family, schools and neighborhood culture play? If five million new public dollars were available to reduce teen violence and deaths in East Des Moines and help the teens live healthier, happier, more promising lives, how could that money best be invested?

    I am not very optimistic about what will really be learned from the trials of the six teens arrested for the school shooting. The REGISTER has promised in-depth reporting on the shooting and those involved. But unless that reporting is really in-depth, and is also very honest and includes issues that are politically sensitive (to the right, the left, or both), it’s hard to be optimistic about learning a lot from that reporting. I hope I’ll be happily surprised.

  • I am not sure that her statement concerning the shooting could best be read that she was blaming ‘Iowa schools’ which would directly implicate local school boards, administrators, and teachers.

    But the grammar and vocabulary that she chose to use did unambiguously blame “THE SYSTEM, THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM FOR LETTING THOSE KIDS DOWN.”

    If she, as governor and lt. governor for 10 years, is not part of ‘the system’… then who is?
    If the heavily weighted Republican legislature of the last decade is not part of the system as the funders and regulators of the ‘educational system’… when who is?
    If the Iowa Department of Education is not part of ‘the system’ then who is?

    How could the governor know that ‘those students’ were not partaking of the free-wheeling, unregulated homeschool system created by her party colleagues.
    Unregulated homeschooling is part of … the educational system.

    “I’m PRAYING for the victims of this SENSELESS act of violence,” she told the Des Moines Register. “I am HEARTBROKEN for the families and the pain felt across the entire community.”

    PRAYERS certainly will not fix the SENSELESS attack against public schools which many Republican politicians have so confidently undertaken in recent years. Once the public schools have been broken, and local communities have been HEARTBROKEN, then it will be nearly too late to rebuild.

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