Indiana

New IPS school board chooses Diane Arnold as president

PHOTO: Hayleigh Colombo
Three new members joined the Indianapolis Public School Board tonight. Longtime member Diane Arnold was unanimously elected as president.

The Indianapolis Public School Board unanimously elected longtime board member Diane Arnold tonight as its president.

Arnold will reprise a role she played in 2013, serving as the voice of a board with three new members that seems eager to make big changes in the way the district’s schools are managed.

Arnold, who has been on the board since 2004, replaces Annie Roof, who was not reelected in November after an expensive, contentious school board race.

In 2013, Arnold wanted the job, but so did Sam Odle, a newcomer to the board that year. This time, Arnold said she didn’t seek the role. But the rest of the board ultimately felt she was the right choice.  Before the vote, board members were tight-lipped about who they were voting for.

“Diane has the closest relationship with the new board members,” board member Caitlin Hannon said. “We all kind of recognize we want to get going quickly, and she’s done this before.”

Odle was unanimously voted in as vice president. Echols was unanimously chosen as board secretary.

Arnold was president in 2013 during a difficult year for the district. That year the board voted to buy out former Superintendent Eugene White’s contract and the district grappled with a budget crisis.

arnold picture
PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TN
Diane Arnold

“I certainly hope and anticipate that this year will be less filled with challenges and more filled with opportunities for real changes,” Arnold said. “We can only accomplish our goals if we work as a team and prioritize our work. Our district has made progress in the past year but we must work harder and smarter to make sustained transitional change to transform education from what has been accepted in the past.”

Three new board members also were sworn in tonight: Former State Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan, returning school board member Kelly Bentley and Carpe Diem Meridian charter school dean LaNier Echols were elected last November.

The election was contentious at times, and became a showdown over money and whether the district should partner with charter schools and introduce other reforms. The three winning candidates together raised about 20 times more than the three incumbents.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said he was eager to get to work with the new school board.

“They’re passionate and committed and this is an opportunity for us to continue on the direction we’ve been going,” Ferebee said. “I look forward to serving with the team.”

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.