Kenston graduation ceremony relocated from downtown CLE in light of ‘pending trials’

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio -- Kenston Local Schools officials have relocated their high school graduation ceremony from downtown Cleveland due to the "uncertainty of public response to the outcomes of pending trials."

According to a notice on the district's website, the ceremony was originally set for the May 19 in Cleveland Public Hall and will be moved back to the high school gymnasium on the Kenston campus. The ceremony is typically held at Parkside Church in Bainbridge, which is undergoing renovations.

"This decision was not made easily, but the Board of Education felt we made the correct choice," School Board President Anne Randall said in the notice. "Due to the downtown location, no one with whom we spoke was able to assure us that our graduation ceremony would be secure. We are all very disappointed."

The verdict for Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo could take days or weeks. Judge John O'Donnell is currently going over all of the Brelo testimony and evidence.

Brelo, 31, is charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the 2012 police chase and shooting that left Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams dead. On May 5, attorneys delivered their closing arguments in the month-long trial.

The city of Cleveland has a plan in place to deal with any unrest after the Brelo verdict is in. Police, citizen volunteers and churches have been collaborating to plan for any demonstrations or protests.

Kenston's graduation is set for Thursday. About 250 students will graduate and the district said all 2,000 people with tickets will have a seat in the gym for the ceremony.

"The safety and security of our students, faculty and families are paramount," said Superintendent Nancy Santilli.

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