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Mother of fatally stabbed Kansas City middle school student sues district for wrongful death

Manuel's uncle, Juan Guzman, shows a sign he made to demand justice for his nephew's death.
Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Manuel's uncle, Juan Guzman, shows a sign he made to demand justice for his nephew's death.

Manuel “Manny” Guzman was fatally stabbed inside Northeast Middle School in April 2022. His mother is now suing the school district for failing to address security problems that contributed to his death.

The mother of a 14-year-old who was killed at Northeast Middle School is suing Kansas City Public Schools for wrongful death.

Officers found Manuel “Manny” Guzman with stab wounds inside a school bathroom on April 12, 2022. He was taken to a hospital, where he died later that night.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court, alleges Kansas City Public Schools neglected to address threats made against Guzman or security issues that allowed a knife to be brought into the building.

Manny’s uncle, Juan Guzman, told KCUR in May that he wanted to see improved security at Northeast Middle.

“For this kid to bring that inside of school, a knife, how did he get that in there?” Guzman said. “And it breaks my heart to know that you have security guards to be there to protect the child in school and not to just let this happen to a child.”

The school district said in a statement that it cannot provide detailed comments or discuss specifics because of the ongoing litigation.

The lawsuit states employees knew another student threatened to stab Guzman, and the school’s metal detectors had “obvious blind spots” or were improperly operated. Because of the “dangerously defective” metal detectors, the lawsuit said security guards weren’t able to properly screen students.

The lawsuit said these dangerous conditions directly resulted in Guzman’s death. Vincenta Guzman, his mother, is requesting a jury trial and monetary damages.

More than 100 students walked out of class at Northeast Middle after the fatal stabbing to raise awareness about student safety concerns and call for improved security measures to prevent future violence.

The student charged in the killing was committed to the custody of the Missouri Division of Youth Services in May after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. His identity was not disclosed because he was charged as a juvenile.

In an email to KCUR after the hearing, Juan Guzman said the family did not agree with the sentencing decision. The student was originally charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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