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Dad’s call for volunteers to patrol schools to reduce violence yields 30 applications

<i>KCTV</i><br/>Joseph Straws
Joseph Straws


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    KANSAS CITY, Kansas (KCTV, KSMO) — Almost four weeks ago to the day, a stabbing at Schlagle High School prompted one dad to get parents in the hallways as mentors and watchful eyes.

He called for volunteers three weeks ago and so far, 30 people have replied.

“We’re moving, we’re churning,” said Joseph Straws, III.

Straws and his wife, Nikol Straws, have two children who recently graduated from Schlagle.

“We’ve heard of other incidents, but this one was so severe at that moment, I think it just kind of hit us,” recalled Nikol Straws.

On November 9th, a student stabbed another student with a pair of scissors while waiting in line to go through security checks at the start of the school day.

Just a few weeks prior, Joe saw a CBS News story about Dads on Duty, a group of Louisiana dads patrolling the halls to stop fights. He’d mentioned to Nikol what a cool idea it was, and it was still fresh on his mind when the stabbing happened.

On November 16th, he convened a meeting of law enforcement, school officials and community groups, seeking to create a consistent parent presence at the schools to send a message to the kids.

“We want to be there for them. We want to talk to them, we want to high five them, we want to dap them and then [when] we see them down when I’m helping lift their heads up,” said Joseph Straws, III.

As actively involved parents, they also know there are plenty of groups and individuals already mentoring. That’s where Nikol put her logistics skills to work.

She created a spreadsheet of all the schools’ hours and adding when and where existing volunteers are serving.

“We’re trying to just figure out where there is support and where it’s needed. We don’t want to just rally to one school because of this one incident,” said Nikol Straws.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of people doing the same thing at different levels or with different delivery,” noted KCKPS Student Services Director Lisa Garcia-Stewart.

She appreciates the effort to add to existing volunteer efforts with a focus on commitment, efficiency and purpose.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel, just helping the wheel turn a little bit smoother is what we’re trying to do,” said Nikol Straws.

Joe and Nikol Straws are excited to get started next year to see if it makes a difference, both in school and out.

“When you have positive people in the schools that are meeting with the students, and you’re seeing them, they can start talking to them about like conflict resolution,” said Joseph Straws, III. “So if you’ve got dads and people that are in these schools that can connect and then they say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ they might be able to root out some of these issues beforehand.”

The volunteers can’t start right away. Like any volunteer, they first have to go through a background check, similar to what teachers have to go through before getting a teaching license. Then they have to go through an orientation with the district to be sure they understand the district’s rules, philosophy and expectations.

What schools the volunteers end up in will depend in part on what Nikol Straws’ spreadsheet says. She’s still working with other organizations to finalize it to find which has the greatest need.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Straws by email at

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