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Staff, Teachers Preparing For Somber Week At Philando Castile's School

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- A lawsuit has been filed demanding the release of squad car video from the shooting of Philando Castile.

The American Civil Liberties Union claims the squad car video is public. Castile died after a St. Anthony police officer shot him during a traffic stop on July 6.

Castile's girlfriend showed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live. She says Castile was reaching for his identification, not a gun. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has not released the squad car video, saying it's part of the ongoing investigation.

Philando Castile was a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul. Students will be back to school there next Tuesday, and staff is preparing for more than the usual back-to-school jitters.

School district leaders are doing what they can to help students who are still processing Castile's death.

On Tuesday, students at JJ Hill Montessori will welcome a new principal while mourning the loss of an old friend they called "Mr. Phil."

"He made sure students with allergies ate the right food. He would make kids eat their vegetables, even if the parents couldn't succeed or us educators couldn't succeed in making them eat their vegetables," Principal Dr. Fatima Lawson said.

Lawson was looking forward to working with "Mr. Phil," but instead she spent the summer listening to teachers and staff members share stories about him.

"He had this way with students that was unmatched. He greeted them each morning which is not very common, especially if you are in the cafeteria, behind in the kitchen trying to get food out," Lawson said.

Kathy Lombardi is overseeing the training that teachers and staff are getting, to help them answer students' questions.

"The best thing that adults can do is remain calm and in touch with their own emotions so they can be there and provide safety and consistency for the kids," Lombardi, a mental health coordinator, said.

Castile's death received national attention and sparked a series of protests against police violence. A huge crowd turned out for his funeral.

School leaders want to make sure students are able to concentrate in class.

"Our brain research show us that when we are under a lot of stress, sometimes called toxic stress, our brains are not functioning at the optimal level," Lombardi said.

"Mr. Phil" encouraged students to eat well, and do well in class.

A scholarship in Castile's honor has been created at Central High School in St. Paul, where he was a graduate.

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