IPS to consider letting Gambold Prep take over Shortridge High School

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
Shortridge High School will become an International Baccalaureate high school next year.

The Indianapolis Public School Board tonight will discuss a plan to move Gambold Preparatory High School from its Northwest side location to a more central location — perhaps even into Shortridge High School.

That would likely mean the law and public policy program at Shortridge would have to move out of the building to another part of town, a board member said.

Board member Diane Arnold said the agenda item for tonight’s meeting grew out of discussions with IPS parents from the district’s top elementary and middle schools, including the top-rated Centers for Inquiry, about the lack of academically rigorous high school options near their neighborhoods.

Gambold opened in 2012 with the hope of providing its students a challenging academic environment through its International Baccalaureate curriculum. Its first graduating class will be in 2016, so A-F school performance data from the state is not available yet. Last year 98 percent of its students passed state English and math end-of-course exams.

“It’s a great school and it has a phenomenal leader,” said board member Diane Arnold. “It’s not in the right location. We’re not attracting our CFI parents. We’re losing all of those eighth graders to schools like Herron High School and Brebeuf and North Central High School. We clearly need to create a great flagship high school that will help us retain some of our brightest students beyond eighth grade.”

Shortridge High School, a magnet school for law and public policy, has earned a D from the state for the past two years because of poor test scores.

If Gambold moves to Shortridge, Arnold said she expects the law and public policy magnet would move to another location.

“There was a time before when we talked about a school within a school,” Arnold said. “That wasn’t well received by the faculty and some of the parents. There were logistical issues, too.”

Where would Shortridge move? Arnold said she doesn’t know, but expects the administration will present options tonight. Arnold said she expects the district will act fast considering the magnet fair is on Saturday and applications are due for the magnet schools in December.

“Time is of the essence,” Arnold said. “We have to let people know before they start.”

The board meeting is at 6 p.m. at IPS’s 120 E. Walnut St. headquarters. It is open to the public.

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

More in What's Your Education Story?

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.