At the May 26 Agenda Review Session, the Indianapolis Public
Schools Board of School Commissioners discussed items involving the expansion
of opportunities for our students and school safety.

A proposed policy change would clarify the district’s
position regarding staff members’ use of physical intervention while
supervising students. The Board recognizes in some circumstances it is
necessary to use limited physical force to prevent a student from hurting
themselves, other students or staff, or school property. The proposed new
policy clearly outlines appropriate circumstances for employees to use their
best judgment in the use of limited force; the policy also reaffirms the
district’s stance against corporal punishment. Under no circumstances is it
acceptable for an employee to use physical force against a student to handle a
disciplinary matter.

Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee discussed with
Commissioners the site-based safety plans at each of our schools. Principals
are expected to outline a clear plan for the supervision of students in the
halls and on school grounds during every transitional time. Each school is to
determine a team of First Responders, which will include any IPS Police
Officers that work on-site.

“We will continue to ensure that first responders are
identified at every school and they are trained to intervene,” said Dr.

“Certainly there’s potential liability in multiple
directions in a school environment,” said Hud Pfeiffer, IPS legal counsel from
Faegre Baker Daniels, “and the best way to protect [staff and the district]
from liability is to have a clear policy on when to intervene and when not to
intervene. If you are an employee who chooses to intervene, because you are
doing so pursuant to a policy of the board, you are acting in the authority of
the board to do so.”

This policy would put IPS in line with several other center
Indiana school districts which have clear policies enabling employees to use
their best judgment in supervision and protection. Administrative guidelines
would later accompany this broader policy, if approved, to dig deeper into the
specifics of various safety scenarios. Commissioners will vote on the proposed
policy Thursday; you can read it in full here.

Commissioners were updated on the progress of a proposed
partnership with Public Impact to bring the Opportunity Culture (OC) model to a
selection of IPS schools. To achieve goals including increased student
achievement and retention of highly-qualified
teachers, our Academic leadership team recommends this model which redesigns
the roles and schedules of educators to open up more opportunities for all.

Implementing OC would involve taking the best practices from
several education models, one of the most unique being multi-classroom
leadership. Teachers with the strongest qualifications, including proven track
records would serve as leaders for teams of teachers and classroom assistants.
Under the model, teachers specialized in core learning areas would travel
between classrooms to provide instruction in high-priority subjects, while
additional instructional team members would lead classroom learning for other
subjects and activities. Daily digital learning blocks would give students
increased access to technology while supplementing targeted instruction.

The structure of OC would allow IPS to offer more
competitive salaries and incentives to strong educators for leadership roles
within schools using the model. Public Impact would provide support and
guidance through the planning process, but all school decisions would be driven
by our own staff. An IPS District Design Team would oversee the entire project,
while school-based design teams would tailor the model to fit each school’s
individual needs. The projected timeline would bring this new model to select
schools to begin the 2016-2017 school year.

Commissioners reviewed proposals for three additional
Innovation Network Schools in the 2015-2016 school year. Two of these schools
would be operated out of Julian Coleman School 110 in a partnership with KIPP
Indy. KIPP Indy Unite Elementary would serve K-4 students, while KIPP Indy
College Prep Middle School would serve students in grades 5-8. IPS would
receive the per-pupil funding that would otherwise go to KIPP Indy; KIPP also
agrees to pay $175,000 in facilities costs yearly and $650 per student in
transportation fees annually. The initial term of the agreement is seven years,
but this can be terminated early if the schools fail to perform academically or
if KIPP would lose its charters.

Additionally, Commissioners reviewed a proposal for an
Innovation Network agreement with Enlace Academy, which currently operates a
charter school above Gambold Preparatory Magnet High School. With the
International Baccalaureate program moving from Gambold’s building, Enlace and
IPS have proposed an agreement for a K-5 elementary school using the additional
space in the building. IPS would receive the state per-pupil funding for Enlace
students, and Enlace would pay IPS $120,000 annually for facilities costs.
Enlace will provide transportation for students. The initial term of this
agreement is five years. If these transitions
from lease agreements to Innovation Network Schools are approved, IPS stands to gain enrollment of more than 1,000 students.

The IPS Career Technology Center (CTC) is working to provide
another real-world opportunity for our career-focused scholars. Construction
Technology is a career path offering students a variety of work opportunities
at a livable wage after school; in fact, nine of the “Hoosier Hot 50” jobs
identified by the state are in Construction Technology! In an effort to connect
students with industry professionals and show students new career possibilities
in their chosen field, CTC is forging partnerships with Duke Realty, Habitat
for Humanity and DirectEmployers Foundation. Duke will provide student
programming in both commercial and residential construction; this would also
engage our students in HVAC, Architecture, Manufacturing and Welding. CTC
students will have an opportunity to build a home in our community with Habitat
for Humanity, while DirectEmployers will provide training and support for our
CTC teachers. We look forward to these new partnerships that will link our
students with a pipeline to careers with competitive wages!

Another potential agreement could bring medical records for
IPS and our families into the digital age. Commissioners were presented with a
proposal to enter a contract with CareDox, a cloud services system specifically
for medical records. Under CareDox, families could avoid the cumbersome
paperwork that comes with filing health information at school every year. Each
student’s immunizations, physical exam results, and nurses visits would be
stored securely and in compliance with HIPAA regulations in the cloud. Other
healthcare information could be linked to the system as well to ensure our
families can easily access necessary documentation at any time.

Our Commissioners are committed to making the process for
our public meetings as open and inviting as possible, and they have streamlined
the public comment process to ensure registration to speak before the board is
accessible to all. The district’s new online
registration form
is the latest effort to ensure everyone has an
opportunity to participate in the board’s public meetings.

Board of School Commissioners will honor our Valedictorians and Salutatorians
at Thursday’s Action Session; join us as 14 of our most outstanding students
will be recognized for their academic excellence as we celebrate their success
with our community!