School district acknowledges student's death

Gives tips for talking to kids about loss
Posted at 8:56 PM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 21:03:19-04

Depew Union Free School District sent a letter Friday to families acknowledging the death of one of its students, 7-year-old Leo Klinger.

Klinger was found dead inside a Cheektowaga apartment Thursday night along with his mother, 30-year-old Raina Voll.

He had just began the school year as a second-grade student at Cayuga Heights Elementary School.

In the letter, Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey expressed condolences and support.

Rabey said the district has already assembled a Crisis Response Team to help the school community deal with the loss and counseling will be available.

The district also provided the following tips for discussing the tragedy with children.

  • Tell the truth. Talk about death vs. "going to sleep."
  • Allow for your child to talk about feelings. If this is the first loss your child has experienced, your child may not know how to respond and will be looking for your guidance.
  • Affirm all expressions. It's okay to express feelings honestly. Tolerate the expressions rather than dismissing them or discouraging the expression of feelings.
  • Encourage for written expression such as notes, letters, pictures to the family, etc.
  • Reaffirm that your child is safe and that your child is loved.
  • Affirm that your child's reaction is normal and your understand the way the child feels.
  • Watch for signs of trouble such as aggression, withdrawal, etc.
  • Help your child to as normal routine as possible.

Cheektowaga Police believe a man who was in a relationship with Klinger's mother is responsible for both of their deaths.

They arrested 31-year-old Shane Stevenson Thursday, and Stevenson pleaded not guilty Friday morning to two counts of second-degree murder.

He is being held at the Erie County Holding Center without bail.