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Stark County's Perry School District denies suicide memorial for six students

Posted at 4:18 PM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-19 18:19:02-04

Stark County's Perry School District will not memorialize the six students who took their own lives this past year, despite plans and private funding put together by their families.

Parents and community members had plans to place the six names on a column outside the football stadium with the donations they received. 

Folks, supportive of a memorial, want to ensure the six names live on in Perry Township. 

Tiffany Poirier's nephew, Hayden, was among those six. 

"No one would have ever thought that from Hayden, he was a very positive person when he faced problems, he faced them with a sunny disposition," she said. 

Poirier and her family helped raise the money to put their names on the proposed memorial.

"The money is still sitting where it was," Poirier said. 

Families went to the school with their plans, but the district's superintendent got back to them and said they couldn't approve a memorial on campus. 

Shortly after, Perry Schools sent out a rejection letter.

The rejection states that research shows memorials on school property can actually lead to more problems.

One expert said, “Especially with so many suicides last year, Perry Local Schools do not want to contribute to anything that would potentially increase suicide.”

Poirier told News 5 the school district's rejection of their original plan wasn't easy for her or other family members, but she understands; "They had good intentions. They're looking out for the interest of the students."

Poirier said she feels they can still plan for a memorial in another location that's in the best interest of everyone. 

"There are other options," Poirier said, "There are strong opinions on both sides and it's understandable, but I think we all have the same goal. I think we all want to remember the people that meant a lot to us, the people we all loved, and we all want to make sure no more lives are lost."

There's nothing official in the works right now for an off-campus memorial, but News 5 will follow-up as plans move forward.