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Hamilton Southeastern hires former IPS director as new superintendent

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Hamilton Southeastern Schools has hired Yvonne Stokes, assistant superintendent at Munster schools, as the Fishers-based district’s new superintendent.

She previously worked as the director of research, assessment and evaluation at Indianapolis Public Schools.

The Hamilton Southeastern School Board would not allow public comment as it voted Thursday night. The vote on the superintendent was the only item on the agenda at the board meeting. Two board members, Brad Boyer and Suzanne Thomas, voted against Stokes.

More than a dozen people outside the meeting at the administration center on Cumberland Road held signs saying “Education not indoctrination,” “Qualifications matter | Vote No!” and “HSE Board stop attacking our children.”

As the board approved her hiring 5-2, Stokes said, “Please don’t fret about academic excellence. We’re here to make sure that our students have academic excellence.”

Stokes says on her LinkedIn account that she received the 2018 Achievement in Education Award from Gov. Eric Holcomb on behalf of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Indiana Black Expo, Indiana Department of Administration’s division of supplier diversity, and Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

She has a doctorate in educational leadership from Purdue University.

The district began a search for a new leader after Superintendent Allen Bourff announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Members of the community had launched a petition calling on Bourff to resign after he sent a letter to faculty in February detailing how to treat Black Lives Matter movement in classrooms.

News release

“The Board of School Trustees for Hamilton Southeastern Schools has selected Dr. Yvonne Stokes as the district’s next superintendent.

“Stokes, who is currently assistant superintendent for the School Town of Munster, succeeds Dr. Allen Bourff, who announced his retirement earlier in the 2020-21 school year. Stokes will begin her duties on July 1, 2021.

“’We are excited to welcome Dr. Stokes to Hamilton Southeastern Schools,’ said Janet Pritchett, president of the Board of School Trustees. ‘Dr. Stokes brings a wealth of experience to this role and will provide valuable leadership and strategic thinking to propel our students toward academic growth and success.’

“The board chose Stokes after an extensive search that included community input and a thorough application process led by B.W.P. & Associates search firm. The process yielded a total of 25 candidates from throughout the United States. B.W.P. narrowed the initial interview list down to 12 candidates. The top six candidates were selected for board interviews.

“‘It truly is an honor to be selected to lead this great school district,’ Stokes said. ‘Our children thrive in our schools when they understand their value, know they are loved and supported and are inspired to excel in all facets of their lives. Transforming learning and life outcomes for students through education, equity and excellence requires an all-hands-on-deck approach by ALL of us. It takes me, it takes you, it takes all of us! I look forward to listening to, learning from and supporting our Hamilton Southeastern Schools family.’

“A 2018 recipient of the Indiana Governor’s Award for Achievement in Education, Stokes emerged as the leading candidate because of her comprehensive education experience, her collaborative approach to addressing challenges and her approachable communication style.

“Prior to her four-year stint in Munster, Dr. Stokes worked in the associate superintendent’s department at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), where she served as an academic improvement officer. She provided oversight and evaluation of principals, schools and programs. She also helped implement curriculum, assessment and instructional programs.

“Before joining IPS, Dr. Stokes served at Blackford County Schools, Marion Community Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools in a variety of roles, including principal, assistant principal, special education services coordinator, director of curriculum and evaluation and teacher.

“In 2013, she earned her doctorate in educational leadership from Purdue University, where she also holds an undergraduate degree. She also earned a master’s degree in special education from University of Saint Francis and a licensure in exceptional needs at Purdue University Calumet.”

Provided by Emily Pace Abbotts, director of school and community relations, Hamilton Southeastern Schools