TPS Superintendent on Shelby verdict: 'We must set the best example possible for our kids'

Dr. Deborah Gist at a Tulsa Public Schools board meeting in May. (File/KTUL)

The superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools has released a statement for parents in the aftermath of Officer Betty Shelby's acquittal in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher.

Thursday is the last day of classes for the district. Dr. Deborah Gist says teachers and parents will "need to navigate difficult questions and conversations in our schools today."

"We will need to help our children find productive ways to manage their emotions," Gist said in a statement posted to Facebook. "We must also ensure that all of our children - particularly our young men of color - know that we see them, we value them, and that we are committed to lifting them up."

RELATED | Crutcher family on 'not guilty' verdict: Terence was the real victim

After nine hours of deliberations, a jury found Shelby not guilty of first-degree manslaughter for killing Crutcher in September 2016. Crutcher, a black man, was unarmed when he was killed. Shelby said she feared for her life and was acting according to her training.

A group of protesters gathered in downtown Tulsa following the verdict, but the demonstrations remained peaceful and cleared early Thursday morning.

"Anyone who spends time with children can tell you that kids are always watching adults to gauge how best to understand the world," Gist said. "Even as we struggle with the discomfort of confronting issues around race, justice, and equity, we must set the best example possible for our kids."

RELATED | Mayor Bynum: Verdict doesn't change recognition of racial disparities

Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to discuss Shelby's acquittal.

Read more about the Terence Crutcher shooting death.

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