At the September Action Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners discussed and voted on a variety of initiatives intended to follow the vision of the Board’s Core Commitments and Beliefs. The action session started with special recognition of Leon Taylor, owner of Leon’s Barber Shop, for his dedication and service to our community. Mr. Taylor was instrumental in the planning of the Brightwood Block Party, which kicked off the IPS Strategic Plan launch event series. He spent countless hours recruiting volunteers and community partners to ensure a successful community celebration; Commissioner Gayle Cosby presented a plaque to Mr. Taylor’s son as a token of the district’s appreciation.


Indiana Department of Education’s Director of Family and Community Engagement Leroy Robinson joined Commissioners in recognizing the leadership teams of Center for Inquiry School 84 and Center for Inquiry School 27, as both schools received designations as Family Friendly Schools (FFS). This state recognition indicated a school has established proven practices to increase parent engagement, and in turn facilitating high student achievement. The voluntary evaluation process for this designation includes surveys of staff, families, and students to ensure designated schools excel at addressing the academic, physical, emotional, and social needs of students while maintaining family and community involvement.


Chief Strategist, Le Boler announced the launch of the new Strategic Plan 2015 booklet at the Thursday, September 24 Board Action Session. Since the adoption of its core contents in August 2015, the Strategic Plan is being shared with school-based and central services staff to ensure all employees understand the direction of the district and plans for implementation. Concurrently, the plan is being shared with our community. Within the plan are three major goal areas: teaching & learning, efficient operations and family & community. Each goal area is set to ensure excellence in the classroom, in our business practices and in our support services to the community. In the implementation phase, we will break down the plan into several projects that include a detailed scope of work and then invite employees and the public at-large to join us on project teams to carry out our work over the next three years. Transparency will remain paramount throughout the implementation of our plan, timely updates will be available on the IPS website and quarterly status reports will be provided to the Board, while maintaining flexibly to address the evolving needs of our community. Ongoing results will be evaluated and plans will be refined to drive successful outcomes. We encourage organizations and community associations that are interested in having an IPS leader visit with their staff or membership to explain the vision and new direction of IPS to contact our Service Center at 317.226.4000 to schedule a visit. Supporters, families and community partners are invited to view the Strategic Plan 2015 and the new book on the district website to learn more about the vision and goals of IPS.


Commissioners approved a revision of the Policy and Guidelines for Suspension and Expulsion, which outline student behaviors that may result in disciplinary action. In an effort to promote equity in student outcomes, language identifying “failure to comply” as an offense warranting suspension or expulsion was removed. National research shows “failure to comply” is the leading citation in racial disproportionality among discipline rates for minority students. The Board also approved the revision of the policy addressing the use of cell phones and personal technology. The current board policy 5136 “Telephones and Electronic Communication Devices” and board policy 5136.01 “Sexting Policy” will be replaced with “Personal Technology Devices.” The previous policies are now merged into one comprehensive policy governing personal technology devices and acceptable usage on school grounds. Accompanying changes to Administrative Guidelines will offer procedural details for school leaders when implementing the proposed policy. 


Each year, we must submit documentation to report school openings, closures, requests for new baselines, and building reconfigurations. In July the Board approved the reconfiguration plans for the 2015-2016 school year; Commissioners approved an update to those plans reflecting the removal of preschool from Ernie Pyle School 90 and the addition of preschool to William Penn School 49.


Commissioners unanimously signed a letter of support for the Indianapolis Red Rapid Transit Line that will connect many of our families to some of the fastest growing employment centers in the region. The Red Line is a 36-mile route that extends from Westfield through Downtown Indianapolis to Greenwood that will vastly improve mobility within our city and region. The Board, along with Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee also expressed support for a Small Starts grant from the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corp (IndyGo) to The United States Department of Transportation to help fund the initiative, “I enthusiastically support this,” says Commissioner Kelly Bentley, “this will be great for our city and great for our families!”


The first phase of the project will lay the groundwork entirely within the City of Indianapolis and is one piece of a much broader transit plan that has a tremendous opportunity for success. The Red Line will connect our community to 140,000 jobs and could potentially serve as a lifeline for many IPS families; connecting schools such as Broad Ripple Magnet High School, the Butler Lab School, Shortridge IB High School and all three Centers for Inquiry to surrounding communities. “We are looking forward to advancing and improving transportation for the city,” said Dr. Ferebee.